Our Search for the Tomb of Jesus BOOK - Read Online
Introduction By Matthew Tulloch and Simon Brown.
Seeing Jerusalem changed everything for me.Like millions of others around the world, I was brought up in a Christian society. But religion was not something I paid particular attention to when I was younger. I was apathetic, perhaps, as many people are in today’s world. Where I come from, if you ask people about their faith many would say they were Christian. Most would probably tell you that they believed in a creator. But few will relate these beliefs to their own life experience and what it really means to be a Christian. Their faith is something tucked away in the back of their minds, as mine was, as though it were something they didn’t want to deal with. Something to be afraid, or ashamed of. It’s not hard to understand why. Life has a way of constantly testing us. Testing our hearts and minds, testing our faith.
Sometimes even the strongest believer can hold their Bible in their hands and wonder if it could really be true. The stories of people and places so far in the past that they blur the line between fantasy and reality. Did Adam and eve really eat of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden? Did God rain down fire and Brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah?
Did Jesus Christ die on the cross for our sins, and did he rise again? These questions troubled me, as they trouble many others. My mind was like an unfinished jigsaw puzzle, faith and doubt swirling around like missing pieces. There must be a creator, I knew, there must. It just made sense to me. But then, why was he hiding? What did he want from me? From us? What is the meaning of it all? Jesus said, “Seek and ye shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Well, I sought. And i knocked. And doors began to open all round me. I had heard of people investigating the stories of the Bible to find evidence of their truth, and this seemed like a good place to start. My first journey led me in search of Sodom and Gomorrah, where I witnessed with my own eyes the remnants of the destroyed cities - buildings, figures and landmarks just as described in the Bible. Residue of sulphur and ash. There was little doubt in my mind that the biblical account of what happened there must be true. How many people know that this evidence exists? How often do we hear about it? Maybe God wants people to open their eyes and see these things for themselves. Or maybe, I thought, maybe he wants me to show them. My first book and documentary about my search for Sodom and Gomorrah was a wake-up call. My wife and I received letters, e-mails and phone calls from people all over the world, thanking us for opening their eyes to these things that they had never seen before. Thanking us for affirming their faith and giving them strength to carry on. Some wept tears of joy, as though they had just heard the Good news for the very first time. I was inspired, and humbled. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be able to visit the holy land myself, see the prophets tombs and walk where Jesus walked. There are no words to describe the experience of stepping into the Bible and seeing the evidence of its truth for yourself, for the first time. But I will do my very best to share that enlightenment with you, through my films and books,and hope that they will bring you as much joy as making them brought me. This book is the story of my return to Israel in search of the final resting place of Jesus Christ. What I am about to show you is based on what I saw there with my own eyes. Some of my findings astonished even those who have been studying the subject for decades. I will draw my own conclusions, but ultimately it is up to you to make up your own mind. There is a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path. And I pray that by the end of my journey you will be just beginning your own. God bless.
Chapter One - On Pilgrimages
Human beings are travelers. We are explorers. Since the dawn of time people have embarked upon journeys far from their homelands, journeys that took them through dangerous terrain, over mountains and seas, from the highest heights to the lowest depths of the earth we have tested ourselves both physically and spiritually, seeking out new horizons with hunger and enthusiasm. Why? A hundred different people would give a hundred different answers, I suspect. But I think that this desire to actively seek out life-changing experiences is born out of a natural human urge to reach out with both arms and try to touch the face of God, the places where Heaven and earth come closest and give us some sense of what life is really all about.
Pilgrimage is a concept rooted in this urge, and going back many thousands of years even before the birth of Jesus Christ. The Hebrews would make annual pilgrimages to jerusalem to celebrate passover, the feast which commemorates the freeing of the Israelites from slavery, and God’s sparing of the Hebrews’ first born on the night of the tenth plague. In fact we know from the Bible that the young Jesus and his parents would have made this pilgrimage every year, as Luke says,“Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover, and when he was twelve they went up as usual for the festival.” Pilgrimages tend to be made to sights of particular religious significance, churches, cathedrals, and the locations of great Biblical stories, particularly those of Jesus. But they don’t have to be. Anywhere that someone feels drawn to for whatever reason can become the destination of a great journey, for a pilgrimage is as much concerned with the person making the journey, and what is inside themselves, than it is with the journey itself. If a person cannot travel very far, then a trip to their nearest church or some other place of particular emotional or spiritual significance for them can be enough to refresh their faith and nourish their soul. The key to pilgrimage is intent. If your intentions are good, you will find what you seek, no matter where or how far you travel. Traditionally, many think of a pilgrimage as answering a call from God to come and meet with him and experience his goodness. Again and again the Bible compares our lives to a great journey, a path that we must all walk, and this is reflected in the idea of pilgrimage. Thus Jesus gathered his disciples with the words “follow me” say Matthew and Luke, and people did. In this sense perhaps we are all pilgrims of the earth, destined to make our own journeys and pilgrimages perhaps without even knowing it. Another reason for pilgrimage is remembrance. The Bible tells us of the importance of remembering good deeds, particularly those of God. Genesis says that Jacob marked the place where he encountered God with a stone, so that it might be remembered, and then Joshua ordered that the children of Israel should build a monument on the stone, so that it might stand as “a memorial forever” for people to remember the good deeds of God. In fact God himself is said to approve of such behaviour, having instituted the feast of passover, and the warnings of his prophets that those who forget the Lord their maker shall be judged harshly. It is less of a warning, I think, than a reminder of where we come from, where we are and where we may be going. A life without meaning is no life at all, and God simply reminds us to look to him when we find ourselves wandering in the darkness, and he will remind us who and why we are.
Finding one’s self is perhaps the number one reason that people embark on a pilgrimage. Though such pilgrimages have also benefitted us as a society, almost incidentally. Communities sprung up around sites of great spiritual interest, such as Canterbury Cathedral, founded by Saint Augustine in 602 AD. People came together to form towns and cities, roads were built, maps were drawn and livings made, none of which would have happened if not for the spiritual draw of the places around which people congregated. International communication was established in many cases by early pilgrims, laying the groundwork for trade and diplomacy, and the coming together of civilizations in pursuit of common goals. These things are not often mentioned in conversations when people are quick to blame religion for war and strife, but we owe much to these individuals who helped build our world through the power of their faith. Jerusalem is the destination for many pilgrims seeking to get in touch with Jesus in the very place where he lived, died and was resurrected. Again this is not simply tourism, though it may appear as such in modern Jerusalem with her many gift shops and tour guides. Rather it is a desire to find out more about one’s self through immersion in the experience of Jesus Christ, and perhaps to nourish one’s soul by walking in the very places where the footsteps of God have fallen upon the earth. Speak to people who have made such journeys themselves and sure, they will be able to tell you what they saw and heard on their travels. But they will have a more difficult task explaining how they felt when they visited such places. As with many aspects of faith, pilgrimage is a very personal, spiritual experience and not one that is easily shared, though it is possible particularly with the video technology of today to share at least part of the journey, and thus to spread the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is perhaps odd that this should be necessary some two thousand years after the event, but we live in a skeptical world. Cliche perhaps, but true. I meet people all the time who tell me that they don’t believe in the stories of the Bible, but who will also happily admit that they haven’t really read the stories in question, or done any searching for the answers to the questions in their minds. In the eyes of so many, the Bible today is merely myth, a series of stories with good messages, but stories none the less. It is astonishing to me how even many people of faith will repeat the same thing, effectively turning their backs on many of the teachings of Jesus Christ because the modern world has made them so jaded, so tired of having their beliefs questioned, that eventually they just give in and accept that what others say must be true. Without seeking out the proof.
Without making pilgrimages of their own. It saddens me that the message of our Lord is being lost amidst the clutter of modern life, almost as though people don’t have time for their faith anymore. No, perhaps that is unfair. Life has many burdens and can be extremely difficult, not to mention confusing. It may not be our fault that we have become distanced from the Word of God, but that is no reason for us not to try to fix it. “Seek and you shall find”, the motto to which we keep returning, has no expiry. It is never too late to open your eyes, to start asking questions. It is important to remember that we are not alone in seeking answers through great journeys. In fact the largest pilgrimage of modern times happened when some four million people travelled to the Vatican City to see the body of John Paul II. They packed the streets, along with three million existing residents of the city, not even in many cases for the purpose of seeing the body itself, but simply to be there, in that place, at that time, and to experience the intangible. A person without faith would find such behaviour hard to explain from a logical point of view, but those millions of people felt a calling. This is the essence of pilgrimage, a great journey made by people, for people, based on faith and self-discovery. Such events though are rare these days. By and large, people appear uninterested in visiting sites of great Biblical significance and witnessing the proof of God’s work with their own eyes. The most stunning example of this, for me, is the tomb of Jesus Christ. The resurrection was the most significant of all God’s works before man, when he demonstrated his power over death itself by raising his only son from the grave. Not only are we not sure, some two thousand years later, where exactly the tomb of Jesus is, but furthermore we seem to collectively not care that much. Perhaps it is true that the location of the event is less important than the acknowledgment of the event itself, but even this is subject to considerable apathy.
The earliest spoken-of pilgrimages to the tomb of Jesus are usually those of Bishop Alexander in the third century, and then the Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, a converted Christian emperor of Rome and the man responsible for rebuilding the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Thereafter a steady stream of pilgrims braved many hardships to have the chance of standing in such a holy place. The infamous crusades were essentially an armed pilgrimage of men who felt the pull of God so strongly to Jerusalem that they were prepared to die for it. How many of us, I wonder, will ever experience such love in our lifetimes. Apparently, however, it does not seem strange to most people that there are few recorded instances of Christians traveling to the tomb of Jesus between the time of the resurrection and some two-hundred and fifty years later. As we will find out on our journey, this may be because the knowledge of the location of the genuine tomb was lost over time. But not completely gone, because answers will always come to those who seek the truth, as Jesus himself told his disciples.
I believe passionately that we need to know where we come from, that we need collectively start believing again in the truths that are right in front of our eyes, else we are lost. This is why I formed the Real Discoveries team with the intention to take our cameras to the sites of the great Biblical stories, and to share our pilgrimages with as many people as possible. If people cannot or will not make the journey themselves, we will make it for them and hopefully be able to bring some of that sense of intimacy, of being in the presence of God, home to those who cannot experience it firsthand for whatever reason. We will attempt to enter the times and places of the people whose stories are told in the Bible, and experience the events from their point of view. We will dig deep in search of the proof of these events not only for ourselves, but to sway the doubters and satisfy the curious. We will stand, I believe, in the very place where our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead some two thousand years ago, and challenge people to deny that this is a place where the touch of God is more present and more powerful than anywhere else on this earth. We do this for ourselves, but we also do it for you, for all of you, so that you might see what we see, touch what we touch and experience what we experience. Let me tell you, it is an incredible feeling. I believe strongly that there is a dearth of spirituality, a waning of faith in our society, and that cannot be allowed to continue. There has never been a more important time to be good at what we do, and I am overjoyed that you have chosen to join us on our journey by picking up this book. I hope that within its pages, you will find the answers that you seek, or at least find the courage to look inside yourself for those answers.
We are all pilgrims now.
Chapter Two - The Last Day
“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.” - 1 Corinthians 15:14-20
Many of you will be intimately familiar with the story of the last days of Jesus Christ, his crucifixion and resurrection, some of you may not be. I will re-tell it here with a focus on some of the details that will become important in our search for the truth about the tomb of Jesus. It was during the feast of Passover that Jesus came with his disciples to Jerusalem, where he was greeted by a large and joyous crowd who welcomed him shouting, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” Jesus went to Herod’s Temple, a vast and grandiose building raised up on a huge stone platform on the site of the original Temple Mount on Mount Moriah, where God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his own son. Jews (including Jesus) also believe that this was where God gathered the dust from which to form Adam, the first man, and thus the site of the origin of all human life. It was, and to many still is, the most significant spiritual place on earth. Jesus considered the use of this holy site by money changers and other shady dealers to be a mockery of all that he held dear, and so he overturned the tables of the money changers there, scolding them and the corrupt priests for turning this holy place into a “den of robbers.” It is probable that Jesus already knew at this time what his fate was to be, and challenging the establishment in such a fashion was guaranteed to stir up trouble. Later in the week, Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples in a meal that came to be known as the last supper, where he broke bread and poured wine for them, instructing them to eat and drink in remembrance of him. For it was at the last supper that Jesus predicted one of his disciples would betray him, and he would be executed. After the last supper, Jesus and his disciples went to pray in the garden of Gethsemane, where he was arrested on the orders of the high priest. They arrested Jesus at night in order to avoid a riot, as Jesus was quite popular among the people, though not popular enough as we shall see.
This contradiction plays an interesting role in determining the real location of his tomb. Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ apostles, betrayed him to the guards with a kiss, while another apostle, Simon Peter, attacked the guards with a sword, reputedly cutting off one of their ears which Jesus miraculously healed on the spot, chiding his friend gently, “all that take the sword shall perish by the sword.” From what we know, the rest of Jesus apostles went into hiding following his arrest, fearing for their own lives. At Jesus’ trial he was asked by the priests, “Are you the Son of God?” To which Jesus replied, “You are right in saying I am.” He was condemned for blasphemy and handed over to the Roman soldiers, lead by Pontius Pilate, who asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” To which Jesus replied, “It is as you say.” Pilate was reputedly a rash and rather bloodthirsty young man, though in this case he did not feel like Jesus had committed any particular crime, at least against his Roman masters. The turning over of the money changers’ tables had ruffled a few feathers, but it was hardly a crime worthy of death. There was a custom at the time for one prisoner to be pardoned at Passover time, and Pilate offered the assembled crowd a choice between sparing the life of Jesus of Nazareth, or that of a thuggish insurrectionist named Barabbas. The Crowd chose to spare Barabbas, to Pilate’s surprise. Matthew writes that the procurator washed his hands to indicate that he was not guilty of the injustice of the decision. This inference that Jesus, while popular among a certain section of Jewish society, was not unanimously renowned as a hero of the people, may go some way to explaining why there is little record of people paying respects at his tomb in the years following his death, though we do have some evidence as we shall see.
Jesus was crucified, according to the gospels, at a place known as Golgotha, which in aramaic means, “The place of the skull”, though no more specific details are given. It has traditionally said that Golgotha refers to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where it was believed that the skull of Adam, the first man, was buried. Though this explanation is somewhat lacking, and there has not been much in the way of challenge to these long-held assumptions until fairly recently. Jesus died shortly before late afternoon and his body was given to a wealthy man named Joseph of arimathea, said to be a quiet follower of Jesus, who begged his body from the Romans who agreed that he be taken down and handed over for burial. This was not at all the norm with crucifixion, as many crucified men were left to hang on their crosses until their bodies decayed away, but as we know Pilate did not believe Jesus to be a particularly bad person. The gospels report that the sky darkened when Jesus died and remained dark for several hours. Matthew also makes reference to an earthquake, which is another interesting detail to which we shall return. At this point we will pause to consider an oft-overlooked figure in these events, the most important events remember in the entire history of Christianity, and that is Joseph of Arimathea. We know that he was a rich man, and possibly a member of the Sanhedrin council of priests that so disapproved of Jesus’ “blasphemy” and the disturbance that he caused in the temple. Joseph, it seems, did not make public his support for Jesus until this unexpected outpouring of grief after his death, in which he requested Jesus’ body for burial.
It is written that he and Nicodemus took the body, wrapped it in a new linen sheet, and buried Jesus in Joseph of Arimathea’s own, unused tomb. This is another crucial detail in our investigation. The body was laid there in the presence of Jesus’ mother Mary, and Mary Magdelene, and then a large circular stone was rolled across the entrance to the tomb. We know that the Romans were afraid that Jesus’ disciples may try to take his body away and claim that he had risen from the dead (having heard Jesus’ own prophecy), and so they were ordered to seal the tomb as best they could, probably with chains and iron pegs, and a guard. What became of Joseph of Arimathea following the resurrection of Jesus is not well documented, though a number of historians, including Tertullian, Eusebius and Rabanus Maurus, suggest that Joseph along with other disciples of Jesus, including Lazaras (raised by Jesus from the dead) and Mary Magdelene, traveled across Europe spreading the good news of Jesus resurrection, passing through France and eventually ending up in England where, it is claimed, they founded Glastonbury Abbey. There are also legends connecting Joseph of Arimathea to the artifact known as the Holy Grail, but we will not concern ourselves with those in this book. So then, Jesus was buried in the fresh tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, which was said to be in a garden near Golgotha (the site of the crucifixion), and a large rolling stone sealed across the entrance. That the tomb was nearby the site of the crucifixion is significant and also makes perfect sense, as the following day was the sabbath, and Jesus would need to be buried before sunset on the sabbath day. The new linen sheet which we are told they wrapped Jesus in before burying him, is believed by many to be the famous Shroud of Turin. We will cover the Shroud of Turin in more detail later, but for now sufficed to say that its existence, if genuine, is a hugely significant part of the puzzle in determining the truth about the tomb of Jesus.
According to the gospel of John, when Mary Magdelene and another woman named Mary came to anoint the body of Jesus on the third day after his death, they found that the huge rolling stone covering the entrance had been moved aside. Mary looked into the tomb and saw two angels sitting one where Jesus’ head would have been, and one at his feet. They asked her why she was crying, and then when she turned around and saw Jesus standing before her, she didn’t recognize him until he spoke her name. Thereafter Jesus is said to have appeared to a number of people, including his apostles, telling them to go and spread the good news of the glory of God.
The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ fulfilled centuries old Jewish prophecies about a messiah who would come. The prophecies though are generally agreed to have been only halffulfilled, and many Christians anticipate the second coming of Jesus, when he will judge us all, particularly with regard to how we treat the vulnerable and the needy, before establishing God’s kingdom on earth. To recap then the most important points from our point of view: Jesus’ fate was sealed by the people who chose to spare another man’s life instead of his. He was crucified at a place known as Golgotha, which means the place of the skull, and the gospel of Matthew refers to an earthquake that happened around the time of Jesus death. His body was claimed by a rich follower of his named Joseph of Arimathea, wrapped in a clean linen sheet (possibly the Shroud of Turin) and buried nearby in a fresh, unused tomb, in the garden of Joseph and in the presence of Jesus’ mother Mary and Mary Magdelene. The tomb was sealed with a large stone rolled across the entrance, which would have been fixed secure by the Romans. Each of these details will play a key role in our investigation, as we leave no stone unturned in our search for the authentic tomb of Jesus.
Chapter Three - Jerusalem Then and Now
Jerusalem is at once the most wonderful and most terrible city on the face of the planet. The site of the greatest miracle of all has been, down the years, bathed in violence and bitter struggle both religious and secular. As I write, Israel is in the midst of what some call the ‘Second Intifada’, a bloody conflict between Israeli and Palestinian factions, which has seen over six-thousand people lose their lives in the last eight years.
As a consequence, exploring in the Holy Land is as dangerous now as it has ever been. The first part of my quest to find the tomb of Jesus had to take place without my wife Emma, who was understandably nervous about the situation. She wasn’t the only one. Upon my arrival at Stanstead airport I was apparently mistaken for a terrorist. This happens tiresomely frequently to me, due to my obvious Middle Eastern heritage. After simply making an enquiry at the check-in queue, I was followed around the terminal by suspicious security guards. Eventually they took me aside for questioning, and during my half-hour interrogation, I wondered what might have happened if I hadn’t been a UK citizen.
Eventually they seemed to get bored and let me continue through the terminal. My humiliation was not yet complete, however, as the baggage check involved my possessions being strewn across the counter as if I had just been arrested for burglary and they were checking for evidence. Then two Israeli gentlemen searched, scanned and scowled at me while examining my passport in minute detail, before I was finally allowed to board the aircraft. The whole experience was so impersonal and devoid of human interaction that I felt rather like a piece of baggage myself by the time it was over.
Groping for a silver lining as I finally took my seat, I reflected that if even half the people on the flight had gotten the same treatment as me, it was unlikely that there was a bomb on board.
Fortunately this lack of courtesy did not extent to Jerusalem itself, where I was received warmly at my hotel, which had an outstanding view of the old city that really put me back in the mood to explore a bit. But first, a little history: The city of Jerusalem has probably the most intriguing and often violent history of any other in the world, and yet for all of her stories, there are many blanks in the history of this place where Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected. In order to help us construct a better idea of the events that took place around that glorious event, it will be helpful to examine the history of Jerusalem with particular reference to the geography of the area and some of the legends that surround her most famous historical landmarks such as Mount Moriah and the Temple of Solomon.
At the time of Jesus, Jerusalem was ruled by a highly controversial man named Herod the Great. Herod was half Jewish and little trusted by many of his subjects, but he ruled the city with an iron fist largely thanks to his skill at winning favour among the rich and powerful. Herod did deals with the Roman leaders Mark Antony and Caesar Augustus, and kept the ruling classes of Jerusalem, including the influential priests, satisfied with their material lot in life. Some scholars have suggested that there were no poor people in first century Jerusalem, but there is plenty of evidence that in fact the society was very much two-tiered, with a large wealthy class and equally large impoverished population. This latter interpretation is backed up somewhat by the notes of material injustice present in many of Jesus’ sermons. Herod build vast monuments to himself and other wealthy notables whom he wished to flatter, of which the most famous is the great Temple built on the site of Solomon’s temple that was destroyed by the Babylonians almost six centuries previously. Since the law forbade the temple to be built larger than the original, Herod had an an enormous platform constructed for the temple to sit up, some 35 acres in total with thirty feet high walls. This platform came to be known as Temple Mount, and Jesus famously predicted its downfall when he visited the city for the last time. The temple was razed to the ground by the Romans just a few decades later.
Herod’s temple signified what the Jerusalem of the time was all about. Religion was the city’s primary economic driver, and the animal sacrifices around which many rituals were based kept farmers all around in pocket. Visitors from far away would generally sell their own animals locally before they set off on their journey, and then buy fresh animals from within or nearby the city. The reason for this was that religious law required the animals to be unblemished, and people didn’t want to take that risk on such a long journey. Coins bearing the images of men (such as Roman coins did) were forbidden for such purposes, and so people would change their Roman money for faceless shekels at a money changer. It is these money changers against whom Jesus railed on the temple platform just a few days before his crucifixion. At the time of a great festival such as Passover, as many as 250,000 visitors might descend upon Jerusalem, all passing along the main road, a freshly built Roman one, in order to visit the temple. The hills around Jerusalem would have been filled with great camps of people celebrating life and eating well.
The Roman garrison where Pontius Pilate was stationed stood on high ground to the north west of the great temple. It was named Antonia, one of Herod’s clever tributes to his Roman masters. The garrison was a source of conflict within the community. People were already confused by the transformation of their faith into something so brazenly wealthy, and the submissiveness of their leaders to Rome made many purists angry. In one particular flashpoint, a group of Jewish students attempted to remove a Roman eagle from the temple’s decoration, and as a result of the riots that followed 2000 men were crucified. The environment harboured a swelling undercurrent of resentment, which helps to explain the attitude of the priests towards Jesus when he showed up during passover and challenged their authority so vocally on the platform of the temple itself. They were worried that he would ignite the spark that sent the whole city into uproar. The priests were happy with the status quo, which amongst other things had made them all very wealthy.
Crucifixions took place, by tradition, outside the city walls. In the same way that Spartacus’ soldiers were hung along the Appian Way in Rome, the condemned men of Jerusalem would have been executed along the main roads outside the city, so as to be seen by as many passers-by as possible. Maps of first century Jerusalem differ, though they indicate that the Via Delorosa, the path marked today as the one which Jesus’ would have walked on the way to his place of crucifixion, is almost certainly inaccurate and based more on 14th century geography rather than the main roads of the period. This also casts substantial doubt on the final destination of the Via Delorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally considered to stand on ‘Golgotha’ (the place of the skull), and thought by many to be the site of the tomb in which Jesus was buried. Some maps of the time would have put this spot outside the city walls, and archeological studies of the area indicate that this may be right, which would make it an unlikely candidate to be the spot for any execution.
Today’s Jerusalem is quite different to the Jerusalem of 2,000 years ago. Many of the famous landmarks, including the Temple of Herod, have been destroyed (and many rebuilt) as a result of centuries of turmoil and war. The narrow, winding streets of some districts, like the market streets in the lower city, can evoke a similar atmosphere to that which they would have back then. But the area around the temple itself, and particularly at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, has changed so much that it virtually impossible to imagine the events that are supposed to have taking place there. Tourism has replaced religion as the primary business of the city, though that has suffered in recent years with the continuing violent, and you will be hard-pushed to take a walk around without someone trying to sell you a souvenir statue of the Virgin Mary or some such.
When I came to Jerusalem at the start of our search for the tomb of Jesus, I got talking to a man in a cafe about where we might begin. He offered to take me to the tomb, but instead led me into a series of local ‘gift shops’ and other such places. Fifteen minutes in, I began to fear that I was in the hands of footpads and brigands, a suspicion that was undiminished as we arrived in a tourist ‘emporium’, the owner of which was very friendly with, if not related to my ‘guide’. With my cash reserves depleted (partly because I still hoped that these men could actually help me, and partly out of a desire not to stir up trouble - Jerusalem is a very dangerous place these days), I was eventually able to persuade our guide to show us to an actual site of historical interest. Which turned out to be the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Pilgrimage to the holy land has been a very popular activity over the years, but never so blatantly commercial as it is now, not even in the days of Herod’s extravagance.
Outside of the main tourist areas though, it is still possible to get a feel for the landscape as it would have been in Jesus’ time. I cannot describe the feeling of being in this ancient Holy city. It was as if God himself was walking at my shoulder. The variety of dress and religions in this one small corner of the world gave me food for much thought. It was strange to see so many young Israeli soldiers of both sexes walking the city, heavily armed with automatic weapons. A reminder of the significance this land holds some two-thousand years later, that these young people are prepared to fight and die for it. One wonders what Jesus would think of it all. Perhaps someday we will find out.
To the north of the city, and outside the old city walls, stands the highest peak on the mountain rage known as Mount Moriah. Some 777 meters high, and just as imposing as it would have been millennia ago, some scholars believe this, rather than Temple Mount, to be the actual location where God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Topographical maps of the area show that the area of Mount Moriah known as Temple Mount forms a clear image of the Hebrew letter ‘Yod’, the first letter of God’s name, which tallies with the Old Testament’s account of God telling his people to make sacrifices “where I shall place my name.” And we believe that the highest point of Mount Moriah may have been the site of the most famous sacrifice of all, as the curious observer will note, etched in the sheer rock, distinct and imposing, the image of a skull.
Chapter Four - The Many Tombs of Jesus
Up to this point, I had barely scratched the surface of Jerusalem. But I had seen enough that I decided to return home and convince my wife Emma, and some professional friends to come back with me. Our party ended up being eight-strong, including Einar Arnasson, our cameraman.
Emma was still somewhat skeptical because she had not seen the things that I had seen in person, so the first thing we did upon landing was take a stroll down memory lane and visit the city of Gomorrah (for more about this, watch our Real Discoveries documentary, ‘Our Search for Sodom and Gomorrah’). We hired a minibus and drove alongside the beautiful, ethereal Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth, to one of the Bible’s most notorious locations.
Walking among the shapes and shadows which are all that remains of the ruined city, I recounted to the team the story of finding incredible chunks of brimstone the last time we were here, the discovery that really fired my imagination and reinforced my desire to prove that these Biblical stories really happened. That time, I had found the stuff everywhere, as though it had only just fallen from the sky before I arrived. But today, we could find nothing no matter how hard we searched. Emma, ever an inspiration to me when I’m feeling down or despondent, said that she couldn’t believe God would bring her all this way for nothing, and suggested that we pray. Which we did. And soon we were finding great chunks of brimstone everywhere we turned. These are the things I cannot explain, for I know that words are not enough to convince of such things, but I swear that this is exactly the way it happened. I can still see Emma’s face the first time she held a chunk of brimstone in her hand, there amid the broken remains of Gomorrah. From then on, her mind changed, and she was a believer.
As we have discovered, there is little substantive evidence, on the surface of things, as to the physical location of the tomb of Jesus. Or for that matter, the place where he was crucified. The accounts of the gospel writers are rather vague, and although tradition seems to have established ‘accepted’ locations for these events, even their strongest advocates would have to admit that these are based on best guesses and the mere fact that they have not yet been sufficiently ‘disproved’.
Because of this uncertainty, many myths and stories have sprung up. Some are more fanciful than others, but we will examine the most popular in an attempt to weigh up the merits of each and hopefully separate some fact from fiction.
If you have been following the saga of the tomb of Jesus in recent years, you will almost certainly have heard about the Talpoit Tomb, discovered in the East Talpiot region of Jerusalem’s Old City in 1980 by construction workers who were laying the foundations for a residential apartment building. The workers uncovered the entrance to a tomb of some description, and reported their findings to the Israel Department of Antiquities who sent someone along to investigate immediately. The man they sent, Amos Kloner, drew a series of rough sketches of the site and was suitably intrigued by what he saw that he requested a salvage dig to uncover the whole area. His request was granted, but for some reason, perhaps because of financial pressures caused by the holding up of building work, the team were only given a few days to see what they could find.
The construction of the apartment buildings at Talpiot was completed two years later, but the tomb itself was left untouched and one day the children of a local resident, Tova Bracha, found their way inside and found some old, discarded religious writings. The authorities were notified but again, no further investigations were carried out. Fast forward to 2005, and an investigative journalist by the name of Simcha Jacobivici opened up the tomb on a hunch in order to conduct a more thorough investigation. He took with him a film crew under the supervision of the famous Hollywood director James Cameron. Jacobivici and Cameron, however, had not sought the permission of the authorities before beginning their investigations, which is an odd approach to take for two respected professionals who would certainly have known that such steps were expected. We can only assume that they thought permission would have been denied for whatever reason, but what that reason may have been is open to speculation.
Inside of the Talpiot tomb, the film crew found ten ossuaries made of limestone, six of which bore epigraphs of some description. These were removed and shipped off to the Rockerfeller Museum in the hopes of obtaining some expert analysis. However, one of the ossuaries mysteriously disappeared while supposedly being kept in storage at the museum. This fueled rumors of some sort of high-level cover-up, though such speculation should be treated with a high degree of suspicion, since after all the director Cameron had a film to sell. What we do know for sure about the limestone ossuaries however is that they all contained human remains which were described as being in an advanced state of deterioration. The cursory observations of those who saw them suggested that the bodies may have been buried as many as seven generations apart, perhaps indicating a family tomb. Other bones and a handful of skulls were also found below the tomb, the origins of which are unexplained. All of the human remains were handed over to the religious authorities for proper burial, though no records were kept about them at all, another very strange choice to make.
Some of the Talpiot Tomb walls have crude carvings on them, including one over the entrance of a triangle with a circle inside of it. This symbol, sometimes called a ‘purity eye’, is said to represent ascension, which has been taken by some commentators to indicate a possible link with Jesus, though this is rather tenuous. Other than this evidence, and its location in the general region of Jerusalem where Jesus may have been crucified, there is not much linking the Talpiot Tomb with him or indeed any of the details from the gospel accounts of the resurrection. In fact, there is a substantial list of respected scholars and scientists who have written to express their objection to the way in which Cameron and Jacobovici portrayed the tomb as a possible tomb of Christ, and mis-led the media and the public into believing that they (the film makers) had any substantial scientific backing. I think we can safely say that the Talpiot Tomb is not a real contender for being the legitimate tomb of Jesus, but it is a pretty good story nonetheless, and it will be interesting to see if the questions about the lack of record keeping and the mysterious disappearance of one of the ossuaries in New York are ever properly accounted for.
In Kashmir, India, in the Khanya district of Srinagar, is a shrine that the locals call Roza Bal, considered a site of religious significance by local Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus alike and, according to some, the place where Jesus fled after his resurrection. Some respected historians have postulated that the subcontinent may have been Jesus’ final resting place, and of course we have little record of what happened to the man other than that he was seen ascending to heaven bathed in light. It is reasonable to suggest that in fact, Jesus may have traveled far away from Jerusalem and lived out his life in relative obscurity. In those days, remember, news would have propagated much more slowly than it does today, and there’s no particular reason why people hundreds of miles away would have recognized Jesus at all. Though I must stress that apart from these local myths, there is little recorded evidence that this is the case. Roza Bal is a modest building raised up on a platform with low ceilings and archway-shaped entrances. There is a carving on stone inside the shrine which shows a pair of feet with what are clearly crucifixion wounds and supporters of the idea that Roza Bal was Jesus’ final resting place say that they match the location of the wounds shown on the famous Shroud of Turin. Though this has never been proven or really investigated.
A similar story to that of Roza Bal can be heard in the Japanese village of Shingō, in the northern city of Aomori. The legend of Shingō states that contrary to all other accounts, Jesus was not in fact crucified at all, but rather that he had a brother who took his place on the cross while Jesus fled across Alaska, finally settling down in Japan. The story goes on today that he became a rice farmer, married a nice girl and raised a family before dying at a ripe old age. The only evidence proffered in support of this rather bizarre claim is a handful of ancient Hebrew documents that were claimed to have been discovered nearby, and that told the story of Jesus escape from Jerusalem and journey to Japan. Apparently these documents were seized by the Japanese authorities some time before the second world war and have not been seen since. This story, while amusing perhaps, is almost certainly just an elaborate hoax cooked up by the Shingō locals in order to drum up some extra tourism. If this was the intention, it has certainly been successful.
Now we come to the really serious contenders, in my opinion, of which there are two. The first is the famous Church of the Holy Sepulcher, sometimes known as the Church of the Resurrection, which is built on the spot where legend has it the skull of Adam, the first human, is buried. Supporters of the sepulcher claim that this must be the Golgotha (place of the skull) mentioned in the Bible, and therefore the site of Jesus crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Records of pilgrimages being carried out to this location seem to begin around the fourth century with Saint Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, both of whom were staunch Christians. The story goes that the original sepulcher was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD and the site covered with earth and forgotten about until Helena visited the location on the orders of her son and uncovered it, in the process unearthing fragments of the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. Constantine ordered the church re-built in splendor, and since then it has been virtually unchallenged as the official site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. It has also been destroyed and re-built several times as a result of the often violent struggle for control of the city. Currently there exists an uneasy truce around the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, with various religious factions controlling different parts of the building, which has led to bizarre situations such as a small riot breaking out over a guard moving his chair ten feet to the right in order to sit in the shade, or a ladder which has remained on a window ledge over the entrance since before 1852 simply because nobody can decide who has the authority to move it from that location. This rather petty squabbling has also, unfortunately, led to the deterioration of the building since nobody can decide what needs repairing and who will be responsible for it.
Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher stands the ‘Stone of Anointing’, reportedly the stone upon which Joseph of Arimathea would have prepared Jesus’ body for burial. Archaeological analysis of this stone, which is pink marble, indicate that it is not native to the area and in all likelihood was imported from Europe, maybe by Constantine himself. To the west of that is the Edicule itself, which has two rooms. In the first room is a fragment of stone known as the ‘Angel’s Stone’, which is said to be the rolling stone described in the gospels which sealed Jesus’ tomb after his burial. In the second room, the tomb itself, all of the different religious factions are allowed to hold ceremonies such as Mass, and they do so on a daily basis. To the rear of the building is a ragged chapel thought to belong to the tomb’s original owner Joseph of Arimethea. If there is any significant evidence to support this assumption, I was unable to find it.
A stairway winds up from the church to what most accept to be the place referred to in the gospels as Golgotha, and the altar here has a glass case containing a rock called the Rock of Calvary. Apparently underneath the rock is the hole in which Jesus’ cross was raised. Nearby is the Chapel of Adam, built to commemorate the supposed burial of Adam’s skull on this site.
‘Golgotha’ means ‘place of the skull’, and it is virtually unanimously accepted that wherever the true Golgotha is, there also was the place where Jesus Christ was crucified. One commonly-held explanation is that it was called the place of the skull because there lay many skeletons from previous crucifixions. But this raises a clear red flag for anyone familiar with Jewish custom, in which the disposal of bodies was conducted most carefully. Others point to the alleged burial of the skull of Adam on this site, but this story only seems to have sprung up some time after Constantine identified the sepulchre itself and began building his own memorial.
In fact there are various other commemorate spots in and around the sepulcher with similar grand sounding titles, but the only real evidence as to the validity of these titles is in the writings of two historians Socrates Scholasticus and Eusebius, and even then all the really said was that underneath Hadrian’s Temple was a site of visible and reputed wonder.
There is also a split amongst archaeologists as to whether the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and therefore also the ‘Golgotha’ above it would have actually been outside the city walls in Jesus’ day, since if they were not it is highly unlikely any crucifixion would have taken place there. By law, Jesus would have to have been crucified at least one-hundred paces from the city wall, and there seems to be as much archaeological evidence that the city wall in the time of Herod encapsulated the site that is now the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, rather than making two sharp turns in order to exclude it. It would seem that the case for this site actually being the Golgotha of scripture is weak at best, and disingenuous at worst.
There is also the question of Jesus’ tomb having been in a garden. The gospel of John says, “Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus...” John also makes clear that Mary Magdalene thinks she is speaking to a gardener when she returns to the tomb on Easter morning - “Tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.”
The site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre has never, by any reasonable estimation, been a garden. Tests of the soil on this site have shown that it has never contained arable soil of the quality needed to cultivate a garden of any meaning. Advocates of the church’s authenticity cover this glaring incompatibility by claiming that the stone quarry which almost certainly marked the site at the time would have been covered with weeds, and it is this to which the word ‘garden’ refers. Does this seem likely to you?
A prominent Jewish archaeologist and scholar, Dan Bahat, suggests that the Holy Sepulcher may indeed be the location of Jesus’ tomb, but cautions that this is largely due to the absence of any substantial evidence against it, rather than any significant evidence in its favour.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher certainly has the feel of an important religious site, and one cannot fail to be moved by the sight of people kneeling in prayer before the Anointing Stone within. But that is exactly part of the problem. The Church is such a draw for tourists, and the area around it, as well as the building itself, have changed so much over the years that it is just impossible to get a feeling what what the place would have been like in Jesus’ time. Visiting the church is a moving experience, but the feeling you’re left with afterwards is that the present day sepulcher is so dramatically different from how it would have been at the time of Jesus’ burial that it hardly matters whether this is the right place or not. There’s no real feeling of connection, it’s as if the keepers of the place are trying too hard without letting it speak for itself.
In contrast, our final contender for the legitimate tomb of Jesus is one of the most serene places you’re ever likely to visit. The Garden Tomb, popularly proposed by the British Major-General Charles George Gordon in 1883 as being a possible site of Jesus’ tomb, is located north of the Holy Sepulcher, outside the city walls, near the Damascus Gate. Gordon identified the site partly because he believed that the sepulcher would have been inside the city walls two thousand years ago and therefore an unlikely location for a crucifixion. But mainly his attention was drawn by the shape etched in the rock of the towering cliff nearby, the tallest cliff in the city. The shape of a skull. Golgotha.
Chapter Five - Further down the Garden Path
“Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.” - John 19:41
Near the Damascus Gate of northern Jerusalem, a popular site for crucifixions in the time of Jesus, and in the shadow if the tallest peak of Mount Moriah with its skull face sunk into the rock, there is a garden. Visitors to the garden today will find it to be both beautiful and serene, amazingly so considering the noise and bustle that engulfs the rest of the city. We know that this spot would also have been a garden in Jesus’ time thanks to the excavation of both a superb wine-press and a huge water cistern, one of the biggest in Jerusalem even now holding a quarter of a million gallons of rain water. This indicates two things; firstly that the garden two thousand years ago was almost certainly a vineyard as well as a beautiful garden, an secondly that it would have belonged to a very wealthy man. We know from the gospel’s description of Joseph of Arimathea that he was indeed a wealthy man, and that it was his own tomb in his own garden which he gave for Jesus to be buried in. A new tomb, never before used.
The Garden Tomb is often thought to have been ‘discovered’ as it were by the British General Charles Gordon, also known affectionately as Chinese Gordon by the British public thanks to his heroic fighting in China. He also played a substantial role in smashing up the North African slave trade. This was a man, by all accounts, with a good heart and a finely-tuned sense of morality. Gordon stood before the great cliff with the skull sunken into it and immediately declared that nearby must be the location of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection. His certainty about this, we understand, was bolstered partly by his military knowledge, which told him that this would have been far and away the most visible place to crucify a man and send a signal to everyone for miles around, and partly by his belief that the traditional site of Jesus’ tomb, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, would have been outside the city walls in Jesus’ time and therefore unlikely to have staged any executions. This assertion splits archaeologists even today, but some very old maps show that Gordon may well have been right about this. We will return to the maps later, but for now sufficed to say that General Gordon returned to England and raised money to purchase the site so that it might be preserved for future generations. For this, we owe him a deal of gratitude. The Garden Tomb today is still owned by the Garden Tomb Association, a British charitable trust. This British connection is actually very interesting, and again we shall return to it in time.
I mention that Gordon popularized (to some extent) the legitimacy of this Golgotha and therefore by extension also the Garden Tomb, but there had actually been pilgrims before him to whom the sight of this great skull in the rock indicated clearly that this must be Calvary. In 1842, some forty years before Gordon, a German scholar by the name of Otto Thenius observed as such. His certainty was matched by a British Major, Claude Condor, and the scholar Fisher Howe in 1871. Mostly these claims appear to have fallen on deaf ears, and it is still the case today that the Garden Tomb seems to resist acceptance by the establishment and those who have not experienced the place for themselves. It’s almost as if acceptance of the Garden Tomb is meant to demand a measure of faith.
Skeptics have claimed that the skull features of the cliff are caused by quarrying activity. While it is true that there are stone quarries at the foot of the cliff, it is highly unlikely that these extend vertically, and as you can see in the photographs, this would be, if it were true, probably the world’s riskiest quarry ever. There is no evidence that the skull feature of the cliff that I believe to be Golgotha are man-made, and indeed photographs dating back to the late 1800s show that the skull was even more pronounced back then, indicating that it has gradually weathered away over time. It is very likely that the features were much bolder and more striking in the time of Jesus, and that if there were a place in Jerusalem known back then as ‘the place of the skull’, this must almost surely be it.
Interestingly, the naming of such a geographical feature in such a way fits entirely with Jewish practice of the time. Other examples include Gamia, a Jewish city on the Golan which is built upon a hill like a camel’s hump. ‘Gamia’ means ‘the camel’. Also ‘Susita’, Aramaic for ‘the horse’.
The cliff face with the skull etched into it, according to topographical maps of the area, is the highest point of Mount Moriah, standing an impressive 777 meters high. Biblical scholars have described 777 as “God’s number”, as opposed to 666, the number of the Devil. This is partly due to the fact that God created the earth in seven days, and partly due to the book of Revelations, which describes seven churches having seven stars, which are seven angels.
One of the most exciting memories of our pilgrimage is of Einar, Peter and myself attempting to gain access to the cemetery atop this highest point, Gordon’s Calvary as it is sometimes known, as we believed it to be the place where Abraham sacrificed his son Isaac. The graveyard is very ancient, and it is a minor miracle in itself how it has managed to survive thousands of years’ worth of wars right here in the middle of Jerusalem. Personally, I see God’s hand directly shielding it from harm, to ensure that the memory of Abraham’s sacrifice, and later of his own son Jesus Christ, would never be lost.
Standing atop the place of the skull, it is clear as day that if there was one spot that could have been seen from anywhere in the city during Jesus’ time, this was it. Around the back of the hill, we found the entrance to the cemetery and made to enter it, when a young man sitting on the steps leading up to the entrance asked us where we were going. We explained that we meant no harm, and only wanted to look around, but the man replied simply, “It is forbidden.” This was somewhat strange, because while we stood there, others were allowed to pass and enter the place, and it became apparent that we were unwelcome because of our cameras. I cannot express the sheer disappointment of not being allowed to stand atop Golgotha myself and record the site for all of you to see for yourselves how breathtaking that place was. I admit to being completely crushed, with moist eyes, and I remembered Genesis 22:14 - “And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah Jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.” I was desperate to see some mark or stone where Abraham sacrificed the lamb, I was sure in my heart that it was there. But words could not move the guardian of the graveyard, and so we were forced to re-trace our steps.
After a short distance however, something gave me pause. I really felt that this place was much too important to our quest to simply walk away, and so quietly, I suggested to two of the team the possibility of bribing the gatekeeper.
We returned to the gate and found the man somewhat less surly when the subject of money was hinted at. However he was too worried about losing his employment to let us through. Evidently there were forces in control of this area who were very strict indeed about exploration, and precious in guarding their secrets. My feet did not want to move and eventually I heard my own voice saying, ‘I’ll give you 100 shekels to let us in’. To this he finally agreed after swearing us to secrecy. I called to Einar and Peter and we followed the keeper through the gate.
We walked slowly through the old graveyard until we stood at the edge of the cliff. We were now on top of the Skull, the place where we believe Jesus was crucified, and had unobstructed views across the old city. As we started to film the area, I felt that the money I had given the keeper of the gate was well spent. Alas, very shortly he was back and insisting that we leave. I badly wanted to examine the ancient stones for any mention of Abraham, but even those I could see were so weathered as to be illegible. We headed back toward the entrance with much reluctance, and were met by another man who was apparently our keeper’s boss. Oh dear.
A conversation ensued in a tongue none of us understood, whilst I stood on this incredible historic site feeling nothing but frustration. In the end I offered the boss 100 shekels also and he asked me what I wanted to see. This is probably the kind of extortion that Jesus would have frowned upon. I asked him if he knew of any stones or tombs bearing the name Abraham. Neither man understood my English and I was reduced to sign language, miming cutting a throat with my hand as it was all that I could think of. After further discussion between the two, he took our money and guided us toward the farthest point of the cemetery.
We arrived at the cliff edge, slightly lower than the Place of the Skull, where there were no grave stones, just large rocks protruding from the earth. A fence lined the edge of the cliff and I stood wondering why they had brought us to this particular spot. Climbing onto the fence, I looked downward over the edge and what I saw amazed me. Below was the area of the Garden Tomb, and half way up was a large square shaped hole. I knew at once what this excavation was. The possible site of the Arc of the Covenant.
Ron Wyatt was an American archaeologist whose work I had admired for years. In 1978, with his two sons, he travelled to the western shore of the Gulf of Aqaba for a spot of scuba diving. Wyatt believed that Moses crossed the Red Sea in this area and they were searching for horse skeletons, chariot parts and any other evidence on the sea bottom. Later he visited this area around the Damascus gate and in the company of an authority on Roman Antiquities, walked over the ancient stone crossing known as the Calvary Escarpment. On his arrival at this spot he claims to have had a supernatural experience, where his hand just pointed to the area of this hole that we could now see plain as day. Quite involuntarily he told his companion that Jeremiah’s Grotto and the Arc of the Covenant lay beneath.
The Antiquities man appeared quite unfazed, and assured him there would be no problem with permits etc if he would excavate the site. Wyatt himself did not understand the experience he had just undergone and wondered if God himself was speaking to him. He had been most successful with his quests to date, having found what many believe to be Noah’s Ark in Turkey and chariot parts together with what could be the bones of the Pharaoh’s army on the bed of the Red Sea. However, he had never had such an experience as this before. It had struck him like a thunderbolt and he was now certain that this ground contained the Ark, which was hidden by Jeremiah at the siege of Nebuchadnezzar when he sacked Jerusalem.
In 1979, together with his sons, Ron began a dig here which was to last for three and a half years. He claims to have found not only the Ark, but also evidence that this was the exact site of the crucifixion. This was to include dried blood that had trickled down a 20 ft deep crack in the rock, coming to rest on top of the Ark of the Covenant! On examination, the blood was found to contain 24 Y chromosomes and only a single X chromosome instead of the usual 24: he believed it to be the blood of Christ. He also claimed to have discovered 3 cross holes and the rolling stone which covered the garden Tomb entrance. He then fitted a trap door at the site and covered the whole lot with rocks and earth.
As I stood wondering why the two keepers led us right to this very spot, I had the overwhelming feeling that this view, and not the graveyard itself is what they were protecting. Standing here, knowing what I knew and now seeing with my own eyes, the experience recounted by Ron Wyatt became very real to me. It may very well be that The Ark is still buried under that place, protected by authorities who keep such secrets from their own people. Doubtless in time we will know the truth.
We returned to the cemetery office with the two men and chatted a while. They told us that in the past, some Americans were researching the same area, until they were asked to leave by the local police. Powerful authorities indeed were at work in concealing the secrets of the skull rock. But I knew than where our next destination was to be, and we had seen it from atop Golgotha, a stone’s throw from this most likely site of the crucifixion, an ancient garden containing a two-thousand year old ‘new tomb’.
The tomb in the garden has been dated by archaeologists as being from around the first century, which obviously puts it smack in the right period to have been Jesus’ burial place. The outside has a small entrance, and a rolling channel where a large rolling stone would have been used to cover the entrance. As an interesting aside, locals report that this stone rolling channel has been more recently used as a manger to feed animals. This similarity between the place of Jesus’ birth, and that of his burial, is quite striking.
We also know from the book of Matthew that Joseph of Arimathea wrapped Jesus’ body in a clean linen cloth, possibly the famous Shroud of Turin, and rolled a heavy stone across the entrance of the tomb in order to seal it. Matthew also tells us that Pilate ordered his man to make the tomb as secure as possible, because the Romans were afraid that Jesus’ followers would steal his body and claim that he had risen from the dead, and they knew what trouble this would stir up in the city. We have no specific details of how they secured the tomb, but one would imagine that an iron chain would have been used to cover the rolling stone and prevent it from being moved. To the left of the entrance to the Garden Tomb, in the rock, is a hole such as might have been made by an iron peg being driven into the wall. Skeptics once claimed that the hole was simply caused by gunfire during the 20th century, but forensic tests on the metallic residue inside the hole indicate that it does actually date back to around the first century. Unfortunately the wall on the other side of the tomb entrance, where a second hole might have confirmed this theory, has collapsed over time and had to be restored, so will will never know for sure.
Additionally, archaeologists have found signs of what they believe may have been a crude church built onto the front of the tomb some time probably not long after the time of Jesus’. There is an anchor symbol carved into the rock, which scholars believe is a reference to Hebrews 6:19-20, “Jesus is the anchor to our soul.” If these observations are correct, it would mean evidence of worship at this site long before we have evidence of worship at the site of the Holy Sepulcher, which is not recorded as being recognized as Jesus burial place until around the third century. There is also a large crack in the stone outside the tomb, which would be typical of damage caused by an earthquake, such as the one the gospels record as having taken place at the moment of Jesus’ death.
Inside the tomb the first thing you notice is its size. This was obviously the tomb of a rich man, with its large weeping chamber and rather smoothly hewn-out features. There is a loculus (the place where the body would have laid) diagonally opposite the tomb’s entrance which seems to have been extended in a hurry, at least the chiseling of this section of the tomb is much rougher than the rest. An adjacent loculus remains unfinished. If this was the tomb of Joseph of Arimethea, one could reasonably assume that the first loculus would have been for him, and the unfinished second for his wife. The length of the first loculus without the roughly extended section would have accommodated a man of around 5’7-8 in height, yet the extension makes it a comfortable for for a man approaching 5’11 or so. For now, I would just like you to keep that figure of 5’11 in your mind, it will be important. There is old graffiti inside the tomb where someone has painted red crosses , as well as greek symbols representing alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, a phrase used by Christ to describe himself: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”
The gospels state that when Mary came to anoint the body of Jesus on the third day after his crucifixion, she looked into the tomb and saw two angels. The layout of the Garden Tomb fits this description, as the place where Jesus would have laid is visible right across from the entrance, and there is plenty of room for two angels to have sat on the raised stone areas near where his head and feet would have been. There is also a small window in the tomb which would have let light fall right upon the spot where Jesus’ body would have lain. These kinds of holes were sometimes incorporated into tombs to allow the soul to escape, which Jews believed happens on the third day following a person’s death. This, incidentally, is probably the reason why Jesus raised Lazarus after four days, because if he had done so sooner people might have said that Lazarus wasn’t truly dead, as his soul had not yet left his body.
And on the subject of bodies, New Testament scholar Chris Hutson recalls further evidence in favour of the Garden Tomb in his, “Great Preaching on the Resurrection”: "I read this week about the excavation that took place nearly two hundred years ago in Jerusalem, when General Gordon uncovered the tomb of Christ. When General Gordon uncovered the tomb now called Gordon's Tomb, scientists scraped up dirt from the tomb and submitted it to chemical analysis. After a thorough chemical analysis of the dirt, they concluded, "no human body ever decayed in that tomb."”
Intrigued by these findings, I went in search of maps of ancient Jerusalem which may indicate the location of Jesus’ tomb. One particular map, annotated in French and therefore also presumably drawn in France, identifies a place near the site of the crucifixion as “Jeremiah’s Grotto”. Jeremiah’s Grotto is thought to be the place where the Prophet Jeremiah retired to write the Book of Lamentations, a book of the Old Testament which chronicles the destruction of Jerusalem in 589BC. The Real Discoveries team went looking for Jeremiah’s Grotto in the area described by this map, and found a cavern fitting its description right near the site of the Garden Tomb, which is currently being used as a banana warehouse. The owner was happy to talk to us, and confirmed that the locals indeed believed this to be Jeremiah’s Grotto.
Furthermore, the book of Jeremiah (2:13) mentions, “broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Near to the warehouse, along the foot of Gordon’s Calvary, is a broken cistern that has been cleaved clean in two. Cisterns of this kind certainly pre-date Jeremiah, though it is impossible to tell at what point this particular one was broken. I therefore mention it merely as a curiousity.
According to our map then, this being Jeremiah’s Grotto as the locals believe, would place the Garden Tomb at exactly the right spot to be the legitimate tomb of Jesus. The question is, can we trust this map? I showed the map to some experts, who confidently concluded that it must have been drawn in France around the 16th century. On the surface, it would appear unlikely that a map of this origin and date would be more accurate then one drawn in Jerusalem itself, but remember when we traced the story of Joseph of Arimethea? Various historical accounts suggest that Joseph of Arimethea, along with several other followers of Jesus including Lazarus and Mary Magdelene, left Jerusalem after Jesus’ ascension and headed across Europe to France and then England, whether they established Glastonbury Abbey. It would make perfect sense that the very people who knew exactly where Jesus had been buried would tell the story to everyone they met along the way. It is also entirely possible, even probable that some of them had descendants who grew up in France and England. I don’t believe it is a coincidence this map, whose accuracy we verified ourselves by visiting Jeremiah’s Grotto, originated from the place where we know Jesus’ followers journeyed to after his death. It may also be no coincidence that the movement to secure the Garden Tomb as the legitimate site of Jesus’ burial originated in England with General Gordon. Knowledge of such events is passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth, as well as in written accounts, and I strongly believe this to be the case here.
If further corroboration of this map were necessary, we were able to line up our French map of Jerusalem exactly with another map from a different time period, which placed the site of the crucifixion exactly where the Garden Tomb is today. The same map also placed Jesus’ tomb near that of Saint Stephen, an early Christian Martyr who preached the teachings of Jesus and handed out aid to the poor, and who was put on trial and executed for it. We did not have to search long for the tomb of Saint Stephen, as there is a church dedicated to him exactly on the spot marked by our ancient maps - in exactly the same position relative to the crucifixion site on the maps as the Garden Tomb today is to the Church of Saint Stephen. Another very early map of Jerusalem shows what appears to be a chapel near the Damascus Gate, again in the same spot as the Garden Tomb. This would confirm the archaeological findings around the tomb itself, which indicated that a chapel-like structure may have been built on to the front of the tomb. If this is true, it is further evidence of Christian worship at the site of the Garden tomb centuries before similar references to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
The Damascus Gate itself is interesting, because there is evidence that at least from the fifth century A.D. onwards it was also referred to as ‘St. Stephen’s Gate”. This would indicate that nearby (the top of the skull hill) was the site where St. Stephen was stoned to death. Jewish custom was that once ground had been made unclean by acts such as execution, then the same ground would be used for further such acts, so as not to desecrate other, clean land. It is likely then that if our Golgotha near the Damascus Gate was the place where St. Stephen was executed, it would also have been the place where Jesus was crucified.
The sheer volume of evidence pointing to the Garden Tomb as being the authentic site of the resurrection of Jesus Christ left us reeling, but at the same time, in our hearts, we were not surprised. Visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is an experience to be sure, but we didn’t get any strong feeling from it, it was quite impossible to imagine the place as it might have been in Jesus’ time. Walking in the gardens of the Garden tomb, however, we were unanimous in feeling like our footsteps fell on Holy ground. The tranquility of the place, especially in the context of a busy city like Jerusalem is simply amazing. Before we even undertook our investigations into the historical and scientific evidence for the Garden Tomb being the real tomb of Jesus, I think we knew for ourselves that it was. We had faith. And the mountain of evidence that we found simply confirmed that faith. Will this settle the debate as to where the real site of the resurrection lies? Probably not. I expect that there is far too much at stake for those factions involved with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. But for us, we feel that we have sought, and found. Just as Jesus said.
Chapter Six - The Turin Shroud
The Gospels tell us that after Joseph of Arimathea claimed Jesus’ body from the Romans, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and placed it in his own new tomb nearby. For centuries legends have persisted about this cloth in which Jesus’ was buried. A 10th century painting of a man named Abgar of Edessa, ruler of the kingdom of Osroene (in what is now Turkey), holding a white cloth with the image of Jesus Christ on it. At the turn of the 13th century a crusader knight by the name of Robert de Clari claims to have seen Christ’s burial shroud, bearing his image, in Constantinople, where it was said to be raised every friday.
The cloth that we know today as the Shroud of Turin originates with the descendent of another Templar Knight, Geoffroi de Charny, who displayed it in a Paris museum. Controversy surrounded the artifact back then just as it does today, and it was removed from display by the authorities, changing hands several times before falling into the ownership of a Louis of Savoy, an Italian duke who allowed it to travel from city to city, kept in a lavish case lined with red silk, decorated with silver and locked with a golden key.
In the 16th century there was a fire in the chapel in which the shroud was being stored, which caused a drop of molten silver to burn through the folded cloth. Attempts were made to repair the damage, which can still be seen clearly.
The Shroud of Turin shows the image of a man, front and back as would be expected if it were wrapped around a body for burial purposes. The outline of the man is clearly visible, though very subtle with no definite lines or angles, but you can see the man’s face, crossed hands, shoulders, legs and feet distinctly. The shroud is marked by blood stains which match precisely the wounds that a man crucified by the Romans would have suffered - scourge wounds from the flagram or whip, puncture marks around the head where Jesus was said to have worn a crown of thorns, and the darkest blood stain of all near where the man’s heart, which would have been caused by the spear that pierced him while he hung. There are blood stains also on the wrists of the man of the shroud, which would have been where the Romans drove nails through when they crucified him, not through the hands where many contemporary paintings show these wounds to be. The images of the man’s cheek bones appear swollen, as if he had been beaten, which we know Jesus was. All in all, the wounds of the man of the shroud correspond exactly to the biblical description of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
How the image on the Shroud of Turin was formed remains a mystery even to today’s scientists. In 1978 a team of American scientists and researchers, the Shroud of Turin Research Project, were allowed to conduct a series of scientific experiments in order to try to determine the origins of the shroud. Their conclusions are regarded today as the most comprehensive set of scientific data about the shroud anywhere in the world, and some of the team continue to seek answers to questions regarding its authenticity. STURP issued its final report in 1981, which states as follows: “No pigments, paints, dyes or stains have been found on the fibrils. X-ray, fluorescence and microchemistry on the fibrils preclude the possibility of paint being used as a method for creating the image. Ultra Violet and infrared evaluation confirm these studies. Computer image enhancement and analysis by a device known as a VP-8 image analyzer show that the image has unique, three-dimensional information encoded in it. Microchemical evaluation has indicated no evidence of any spices, oils, or any biochemicals known to be produced by the body in life or in death. It is clear that there has been a direct contact of the Shroud with a body, which explains certain features such as scourge marks, as well as the blood. However, while this type of contact might explain some of the features of the torso, it is totally incapable of explaining the image of the face with the high resolution that has been amply demonstrated by photography. The basic problem from a scientific point of view is that some explanations which might be tenable from a chemical point of view, are precluded by physics. Contrariwise, certain physical explanations which may be attractive are completely precluded by the chemistry. For an adequate explanation for the image of the Shroud, one must have an explanation which is scientifically sound, from a physical, chemical, biological and medical viewpoint. At the present, this type of solution does not appear to be obtainable by the best efforts of the members of the Shroud Team. Furthermore, experiments in physics and chemistry with old linen have failed to reproduce adequately the phenomenon presented by the Shroud of Turin. The scientific concensus is that the image was produced by something which resulted in oxidation, dehydration and conjugation of the polysaccharide structure of the microfibrils of the linen itself. Such changes can be duplicated in the laboratory by certain chemical and physical processes. A similar type of change in linen can be obtained by sulfuric acid or heat. However, there are no chemical or physical methods known which can account for the totality of the image, nor can any combination of physical, chemical, biological or medical circumstances explain the image adequately. Thus, the answer to the question of how the image was produced or what produced the image remains, now, as it has in the past, a mystery.
We can conclude for now that the Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man. It is not the product of an artist. The blood stains are composed of hemoglobin and also give a positive test for serum albumin. The image is an ongoing mystery and until further chemical studies are made, perhaps by this group of scientists, or perhaps by some scientists in the future, the problem remains unsolved.”
- STURP report, published 1981
Various attempts have been made over the years to undermine the legitimacy of the Shroud of Turin, probably the most notorious of which being radiocarbon dating carried out by three leading research laboratories in 1988. The radiocarbon dating appears to place the date of the shroud around the mid 14th century, and the media immediately picked up on this to dismiss the shroud as a fake. Members of the Sturp team, however, had serious doubts about these tests and the way in which they were carried out, and in 2005 one of the original team members, Ray Rogers, published a chemical analysis paper in a leading scientific journal, proving that the sample of cloth tested by the radiocarbon dating was in fact taken from part of the shroud which had been repaired in, you guessed it, mid 14th century France.
Another controversial challenge to the Shroud of Turin came in the form of a South African art history professor named Nicholas Allen, who created a copy of the shroud using a specially prepared emulsion and his own body, in an attempt to show that the whole thing could easily have been an elaborate medieval hoax. Again the media took his side, without apparently actually looking at Allen’s image alongside the real Shroud of Turin. The two cloths are completely different. For one, the Shroud of Turin has a three-dimensional property, with parts of the man’s image which would have been further from the cloth appearing fainter. Allen’s image has no such subtlety. In fact, Allen’s ‘shroud’ more closely resembled a photographic image, unlike the Shroud of Turin which, while it shares some qualities with those of a photographic negative, is far removed from an actual photograph-like image.
Some skeptics claim that the Shroud of Turin is a painting, due to microscopic particles of paint being found on the cloth. This conclusion is quite patently absurd, since the particles in question at, as we said, microscopic, and do not make up the actual image itself. Furthermore, it’s entirely logical that one would expect to find such particles on the cloth anyway, given that it was freely displayed in a great number of places where there would have been paintings hanging nearby, and probably stored with them as well at some point. Other people have even had the audacity to suggest that the shroud was made by the genius artist Leonardo Da Vinci, and while I agree that if any human being could pull off such a hoax it would have to have been Da Vinci, the Shroud of Turin dates back to at least a hundred years before he was even born.
So why is the Shroud of Turin important to us? Well, after our visit to the Garden Tomb, having seen the hurriedly extended loculus which indicates that the tomb had to be quickly adapted to fit a taller man than that for whom it was originally intended, I sent a bunch of emails on a whim to various experts asking them to estimate the height of Jesus Christ, if such a thing were possible. The Garden Tomb’s original owner (we assume Joseph of Arimathea) would have been around 5’7-8 according to the original length of the loculus, but with the extension it now comfortably fits a person around 5’11 in height.
I was blown away when I received an email back immediately from Barrie Schwortz, one of the original members of the Shroud of Turin Research Project, who indicated that his work on the shroud would suggest that the man of the shroud, very possibly Jesus, was around 5’11 tall. Mr. Schwortz qualifies this by explaining that the dimensions of the shroud can of course change within certain limits, being made of cloth and having suffered a certain amount of wear and tear over the centuries, but that 5’11 was his firm feeling on the matter, given all the evidence he had seen. In the last chapter, we examined ancient maps of Jerusalem that marked the tomb of Jesus, and which originated in France. We postulated that this actually made perfect sense, since many of Jesus’ disciples, including Mary Magdelene and Joseph of Arimethea, were reported to have traveled across Europe to France and then England following Jesus’ ascension to Heaven. Is it a coincidence that the Turin Shroud also turned up in France around the same time? I do not believe so. For me, this is the final piece of the puzzle, and confirmation that the Garden Tomb is indeed the real site of Jesus’ resurrection.
Chapter Seven - The Believers
I wrote earlier in this book that the Garden Tomb seemed to demand a measure of faith from those believing in its legitimacy. Primarily this is because the much-vaunted (though in my opinion far less credible) Church of the Holy Sepulchre enjoys unquestioned status with many of the different Christian denominations, some of whom have a personal stake in regard of its ownership and continued dominance. Neither science nor history can prove definitely one way or the other, and perhaps they never will. This being so, faith will be the deciding factor when evidence is weighed up.
I was not the first person, nor will I be the last, to walk in the garden and experience the love and certainty that fills the very air. In fact there is a long history of pilgrims undergoing a similar experience to mine, where in the face of a dismissive status quo, they decided that in their best judgement, the Garden Tomb was most likely the place where Jesus rose from the grave. These people had no financial, political or any other kind of stake in declaring such, only the desire for truth, and to spread the word.
In 1872 Captain Claude Conder was appointed to The Survey of Western Palestine, a project to map accurately for the first time the whole southern Levant west of the Jordan River. A fluent Arabic speaker and student of geography, history and archaeology, Conder and his team turned out pioneering reports about the ancient remains in the Holy Land, which was possibly even more dangerous back then that it is today.
In 1878 Captain Conder, writing a report about his current explorations of Palestine, made clear his feeling that the real Calvary was the rocky outlook just outside the northern wall of Jerusalem, near the cave known as Jeremiah’s Grotto. He wrote, "It would be bold to hazard the suggestion that the single Jewish sepulchre thus found is indeed the tomb in the garden, nigh unto the place called Golgotha; yet its appearance so near the old place of execution and so far from other tombs in the old cemeteries of the city is extremely remarkable."
Conder, as thorough an expert as there was at the time on the archaeology of Jerusalem, noted as Gordon later did that the hill atop the skull rock would have been the ideal place for public executions in Jesus’ time, visible as it was from miles around. He pointed to the proximity of the Garden Tomb to this and other notable historical features, referencing the uniqueness of the tomb itself and positing that despite accepted wisdom regarding the Holy Sepulchre, this garden tomb, in his opinion, was a very likely candidate indeed to be the tomb of Jesus.
William Denison McCrackan, a Christian Journalist in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and author of many authoritative travel journals, describes the support for the Garden Tomb in his, “The New Palestine”, published in 1922: "Among those who hold the validity of the site of Gordon's Calvary may be mentioned Mr. Rider Haggard, who has written at some length on the subject in his, "A Winter Pilgrimage in Palestine, Italy and Cyprus"; Dr. Selah Merrill, at one time U.S. Consul in Jerusalem, Sir Charles WIlson, Major Conder, Dr. C. Schick, Lawrence Oliphant, and even Renan in his "Vie de Jesus".
The evidence for the tomb may be less conclusive to some explorers, but it was nevertheless very convincing to me."
The Renan he mentions is Ernest Renan, a hugely respected French philosopher and theologian whose strictly scientific approach to re-tracing the steps of Jesus Christ earned him the wrath of the Catholic Church. Mr. Rider Haggard, a renowned author with an eye for Biblical archaeology whose fictional protagonist Allan Quatermain would later influence the character Indiana Jones, put forth the case thus: "Standing in that quiet garden with the rock-hewn sepulchre before me, it was easy to imagine that here and not elsewhere these dread mysteries were enacted." "How strange if here, neglected in this old garden, unvisited by the mass of pilgrims, undecked by any pompous shrine or monument, should be the true scene of the Resurrection, and not yonder beneath the dome on the gorgeous battle-ground of the warring sects"
Ron West, an RAF pilot during the Second World War and later posted to Iraq, recounts visiting Jerusalem during official leave. Mr. West, by his own admission not a convinced Christian by any means, was first directed to the Holy Sepulchre: “I was put off by the fact that they frequently said “If you would like to pay a dollar, you can put your hand in this hole in the wall and feel the shackle to which Christ was chained”. Things like that all the time, money making things.
So I wandered up here to this other tomb, where to my surprise there was an English Chaplin and he said “this is the place called Calvary, where Christ was crucified”. I said “Well that’s peculiar, I’ve just been to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and they told me that was the place”. He said “well they would, but if you read the Bible it will tell you that Jesus was taken outside the city walls and crucified at a place called Golgotha” which is Hebrew for skull, and he said “and if you look up to this rock formation you see, it looks just like a skull”, there were holes for the eyes and the mouth, etc.
So I went back to the Holy Sepulchre Church, I said “I’ve just been to another place and they told me that is the place where Jesus was buried, outside the city walls”, “oh well, you must remember the city has grown since then” and so on and so on. So I go back to the church of the English man, the Garden Tomb place, told him that and he said “well, you may not be an archaeologist, but if you’d like to go back to the Damascus Gate you’ll find they are excavating there and you will see that the present walls of the city are built on the foundations of the old walls. This was in Herod’s time, and Herod’s masonry is easily recognized because the edges of the stone are all fluted, and if you go down there and you’ll have a look you’ll see that this is the same”. So I went down, got down into the hole they’d been excavating and saw quite clearly that the present walls of the city of Jerusalem are built on the old walls, and the fluted masonry of Herod’s time is quite evident.
So in my mind I’m quite clear and sure that this garden tomb is the place, it’s Calvary.” Mr. West’s view particularly of the distasteful commercial undertones of the Holy Sepulchre are echoed by Roy E. Skinner, a United Nations worker in Jerusalem, writing to his friend Max Robertson, an Australian Army officer, in 1967: “It seems to me the atmosphere of some holy places is spoiled by the presence of many monks of different orders offering candles and assistance (and of course hoping for substantial donations).
I write this in the ground of the Garden Tomb in East Jerusalem. Sometimes referred to as Gordon's Tomb (because General Gordon, later of Khartoum, claimed he had identified the true place of Golgotha, the place of Christ's tomb). Whether it is or not, I have found it to be a very quiet, private place. I come here when I can (on warm days), to sit among the trees and flowers."
And similar sentiments written by A. R. Millard in his, “Discoveries from Bible Times”: "Going into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre can feel uncomfortable. The lamps and candles, the gaudy colours, and the black-robed priests are alien to our ways of worship. In it's simplicity, this tomb (the Garden Tomb), with its well-tended garden, has an immediate appeal; the visitor can imagine the events of the first Easter Sunday morning without difficulty."
While New Testament Scholar and author Chris Hutson describes an experience startlingly like my own upon his visit to the Garden Tomb: "I am well aware that one cannot build a case on intuition. And yet it is the testimony of scores and scores of Bible students that as they have come into the knowledge of this garden tomb and as they themselves have visited the place, their own hearts have been strangely moved by what could be an affirmation of the Holy Spirit regarding the authenticity of this site. Actually, why could not this be? It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to take of the things of Christ and make them real to us. He has come for the express purpose of exalting the dear Son of God, particularly with reference to his death, burial and resurrection.
Did the tomb fit our heart picture? Were there any serious objections to the acceptability of this spot? We looked around. We prayed, and we meditated further. And God seemed to confirm with an assurance that has never worn off. "Truly, this is the place," is our profound belief.”
You may well be wondering, even after all of the evidence that I have presented here, why there is any dispute at all as to the location of Christ’s tomb. Surely in this age of technological wizardry we ought to be able to simply do a few tests, find the truth and that will be that. It is a fact that some factions have a vested view in obscuring the truth in order to make money, but this is really only a small part of the reason why the legitimacy of the Garden Tomb is not common knowledge.
Do not ask me the whys and wherefores, for I cannot begin to explain them, but Jesus’ words, “seek and ye shall find” ring truer to me every day. We cannot sit back and expect the truth to come to us, that is not the way that God wants it to be. We have to actively look, enquire, explore. We have to see with our own eyes and feel in our own hearts the truth of Jesus Christ, not merely be told about it. The other people in this chapter did just that, and they were rewarded with a gift that I now understand because I have felt it for myself. I call them The Believers.
Chapter Eight - Where to Next?
There is no doubt in my mind that the Golgotha spoken about in the gospels is the highest point of Mount Moriah, the 777 meter high cliff with the skull image sunk into its weathered rock face. I also believe that the Garden Tomb in the shadow of this Golgotha is the legitimate site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The details of the tomb exactly match those described in the gospels: It is nearby the place of Jesus’ crucifixion, a large, wealthy man’s tomb hurriedly extended to accommodate a taller body. The large rolling stone, secure with iron pegs, the graffiti on the walls referencing the Alpha and Omega, and Jesus being the anchor of our souls. The chemical analysis of the soil proving that no body decayed there. The archaeological evidence of a chapel having stood there, the various maps that we found pinpointing this as the location of Jesus’ tomb, maps that originated from the place where we know Jesus’ closest followers journeyed to following his ascension. All of the evidence stacks up.
When I asked Barrie Schwortz, the original Shroud of Turin photographer, about whether or not he truly believed the artifact to be authentic, he answered philosophically that maybe it did not really matter. Perhaps the memory of the event that it relates to is more important than the object itself, and in the end, we would find the answers not by looking around ourselves for more proof, but by looking within ourselves for the answers in our own hearts.
When I visited the Garden Tomb, I felt in my heart that I was standing in the presence of God, in a place where something miraculous had happened. Even if we had uncovered no evidence at all that it is the real tomb of Jesus, I think I would still have believed that it was. I have presented to you here everything that we found out about the tomb of Jesus, honestly, and in full, and I leave it up to you to look into your heart and decide what you truly believe. In the end, maybe it doesn’t matter. But as thousands of pilgrims have found through the ages, sometimes finding an authentic piece of God’s kingdom here on earth is meaningful, and worthwhile, and life-changing.
Myself and the Real Discoveries team will continue to make our pilgrimages to the places where we believe God’s hand has touched our world, and we hope you will continue to journey with us. Who knows where our next adventure will end? Personally I would love to take a closer look at the Shroud of Turin with my own eyes, but there are many other stories in the Bible. Stories that I believe played out here on this earth thousands of years ago. And I intend to prove it. Until next time, peace be with you.
Appendix - An Exclusive interview with Barrie Schwortz
Barrie Schwortz was the official documenting photographer for the original team who investigated the Shroud of Turin in 1978. He gives lectures around the world and has appeared on the History Channel and National Geographic channel as a shroud expert, as well as in Time Magazine, Newsweek, Life Magazine and National Geographic, and many national and international news programs. Barrie also maintains the most authoritative site on the internet about the Shroud of Turin, www.shroud.com, which has been going for over twelve years now. Mr. Schwortz gave an exclusive interview to me in 2007, in which he talks about the history of the Shroud of Turin, as well as its possible link to the Garden Tomb. This interview is transcribed in full here.
Simon: How did you get involved with the Shroud of Turin?
Barrie Schwortz: That's the question people always ask me, "How did you get involved with the shroud, after all, you're Jewish!" And of course I always say pretty much the same thing, that's exactly what I said when they asked me! I had finished a scientific project for Los Alamos scientific laboratories through a company in Santa Barbara where my studio was. At the end of that project the gentleman called me and he said, "Barrie, what do you know about the Shroud of Turin?" And I said, "But Don, I'm Jewish!" And he said, "So am I, remember?" Because of course he too was one of the Jewish team members. At any rate, I didn't feel very comfortable at the beginning with this, and I continued to be a member of the team for about two months and I was still feeling very uncomfortable about my involvement, and I came to the conclusion that perhaps I shouldn't be a member of the team. And what I said to Don Lynn from the jet propulsion laboratories, who was one of the real imaging experts on our team, was, "Gee Don, what's a nice Jewish boy like me doing involved in such a Christian project?" And he looked at me, and he said, "Apparently Barrie you've forgotten that then man in question is a Jew." And of course I said, "No I know that."
And he said, "so you don't think God would want one of his chosen people on our team?" And I laughed and I said, "Well no, of course I didn't think that." And he said, "Well look Barrie, lemme give you some advice. Go over to Turin, do the best job you can and one day you'll know why. Because God doesn't tell you in advance what the plan is." Well that seemed like pretty good advice to me, and I stayed on the team, and I've now been involved directly in the examination, the study and the research on the Shroud of Turin for thirty years. In addition to that of course I founded shroud.com twelve years ago in 1996, and that website has grown to become the largest, and the oldest, and probably the most relevant website on the Shroud of Turin on the whole internet. And the reason for that simply is that I have no bias from a Christian of non-Christian point of view. I can stick to the science, I can stick to the facts, and so I guess I serve a bigger role in the world of the shroud today as someone who brings this information to a broader audience. And interestingly, the photographs I made in 1978 are probably far less important than the contribution I've now made over the past ten years.
Simon: So what exactly can we see on the Shroud of Turin?
BS: Obviously the most important thing on the Shroud of Turin is the image of a man, front and back, ventral and dorsal, that appears along the full length of the cloth with the ventral and dorsal images head to head with an appropriate space between them for the cloth to have been wrapped the way it was. Of course the most important thing that we see if we look at the ventral image, the front image, is the man himself, and as he stands there you can see his arms crossed before him, you can see his shoulders, although they were damaged in the fire of 1532 and there are holes and patches there now. You can then look down the body, see the crossed hands, you can then see the legs, the knees, the thighs, the calves and even the feet on the ventral image. Now when you look at the shroud a little closer you'll also see a number of stains, the most important of which if you look directly near his heart, is the darkest blood stain which we call the 'spear wound' blood stain, that appears on the shroud. And interestingly enough, although you can't see it with the naked eye, when you photograph this area with UV florescent photography you can see a large serum stain invisible to normal lighting, but visible there on the shroud with UV florescence photography. Now as you come down the shroud and look again at the hands you'll see blood stains near the wrists of the man of the shroud. Now this would be the crucifixion wound from where the hands were nailed to the cross. And unlike all medieval and renaissance art, which always depicts the nailing of the hands through the palms themselves, this shows an exit wound further up the wrist, and would have been the correct exit wound for the nailing through the wrists, because the Romans did this all the time and they knew very well where to nail the hands so they wouldn't come loose, and in the middle of the palm is not the place to do that. Closer to the wrist. So unlike all all medieval and renaissance art, the shroud shows it forensically accurate in the wrist. Now if you come down and look at the feet you'll also see at the feet, blood stains. Now there's some argument as to whether both feet were individually nailed, or whether one foot was nailed over the other. We cannot tell this from the blood stains on the shroud, so it is impossible for us to draw that conclusion from the Shroud of Turin.
Now when you look at the back side of the man, the dorsal side of the man, there you see something really amazing. There are a lot of markings along the back, and if you look closely you'll find these extend all way down past the buttocks to the back of the legs, and even on the front or ventral view you'll find many of thee because these are dumb-bell shaped markings, scourge wounds from a Roman flagram. And a Roman flagram had three 'thongs', leather usually, and at the end of each a dumb-bell shaped lead or bone weight. And these are the marks that we see on the Shroud of Turin, we see dumb-bell shaped bruises, many of which drew blood, actually broke the skin. And these cover the man's body, not just the back where they're predominant, but also many came around the front, because as the scourger moved a little closer, his whip would then wrap around the front of the body and leave markings on the front of the body as well.
Now if we look at the face of the man of the shroud, we see blood stains on the forehead. And if we go further we see blood stains in the hair. And if you look at the dorsal or back view of the head that shows the back of the head you see many blood stains there as well. We have stains on the shroud, on the head, as if from a cap, or 'crown' of thorns. So once again, everything about the Shroud of Turin, all the blood stains, all of these markings, are accurate to the gospel account of what was done to Jesus when he was scourged, beaten, and if you look at the man's face (once again I should mention), if you look at the face, look at the bruised cheek bones, one more swollen than the other but both rather swollen. So this man had been beaten in the face, he had been scourged, he had been then crucified, and then he was speared in the side. And what we have here is an accurate description, forensically accurate, of a crucified man, exactly as the gospel accounts of Jesus.
Question: Have you ever compared the dimensions of the Shroud of Turin to those of the Tomb in the Garden?
BS: Well, the question about the garden tomb is an interesting one. The first thing I have to honestly admit is that I have not ever really done a study of the Garden Tomb myself, only the shroud, but understanding that the height of the man in the carved garden tomb is 5'11 is certainly coincidental with what I have always believed to be the average height of the man in the shroud, which I've always put at about 5'11. Now let me amplify that a little by saying that, remember first of all, the Shroud of
Turin is not a stable substrate. In other words, it can be stretched, it can be moved, and as a matter of fact, through the centuries the Shroud of Turin has actually been displayed, hung from balconies at one end with weights on the other end to keep it from flapping in the wind! So obviously a certain amount of stretching is inevitable with the Shroud of Turin, particularly on the long dimension because that's the way it was often displayed. Now, the other thing one has to consider is that this is a linen, finely-woven linen cloth, and it can change its length by as much as a centimeter or more based solely on the humidity in which the shroud itself is kept. So there many variables and there's great debate about exactly how tall the man on the shroud is.
Some people have said 6', some people have said 6'1, but again remembering the stretching capability and of course the recent 2002 restoration where they smoothed out all the wrinkles and re-sewed the cloth onto a different backing cloth, the shroud grew by another eight centimeters, so that too would have impacted the dimensions of the man on the shroud if they were to be measured. So the best studies, and the average of all the arguments if you will as to how tall the man on the shroud is sort of averages out to about 5'11, which is what I then typically use as my answer to the question, "How tall is the man on the shroud?" Remember I came to that conclusion long before I knew about the Garden Tomb. So is this a coincidence? Well, if the Garden Tomb is the authentic tomb in which Jesus was buried, and if the Shroud of Turin is the authentic cloth that wrapped his body, then one could easily conclude then that it makes sense that they would both be the same height. As I said, I've never made a study of the Garden Tomb, although I might not want to put it aside, I might want to go and do a little more research now myself just because I find that this is a fascinating coincidence! But whether or not this is amazing or not I would really assume be in the eye of the beholder. Remember again that the man on the shroud is on a piece of cloth, so we can never be absolutely certain as to his height, or for that matter his skin colour, there are some things we'll never learn from the shroud: colour of hair, colour of eyes, skin colour and the height will pretty much always be debated. But there are some good papers, including one that I have published on my website, that does deal with the anthropometric measurements of the shroud, comparing the arms, the legs, the torso of the man of the shroud to other known human body types, and to determine (in this particular paper) where this man might have come from.
Interestingly that one paper did determine that the body type and size was mid-eastern Jewish, which would certainly coincide to what we believe to be the Shroud of Turin, the man on the shroud.
Question: Tell us about some of the scientific tests that have been carried out to prove the Shroud of Turin's legitimacy?
BS: Probably the most important scientific test that was performed on the Shroud of Turin after our examination of the cloth in 1978 was the carbon14 or radiocarbon dating that was performed on the shroud in 1988, ten years later. Interestingly enough, a protocol meeting had been put together by the seven laboratories that were initially to be involved in the dating of the shroud. Interestingly enough during this protocol meeting they determined that only a single sample would be taken, which seemed to be a very questionable procedure considering that the known information about radiocarbon dating indicated that multiple samples would be required due to the chance of anomalous samples, repairs, contamination etc. found in linen cloth. Unfortunately the seven laboratories, when it actually came time for taking the sample for carbon dating, had already been reduced to three laboratories, and part of the original protocol had been that each lab would receive a sample, they would then perform a chemical analysis on that sample, and then they would burn it, which was necessary and the sample becomes destroyed in the radiocarbon dating process. So interestingly enough, there was a two hour debate as they stood over the shroud as to where to take this single sample from. And ultimately it was decided to take it from a corner of the shroud, far away from the image and the other other blood stains and things on the shroud, but not far from a water stain and a scorch, but down in this corner right next to an existing seam so it would appear that this was authentic Shroud of Turin. Although in our photographs of 1978, even the regular white light photographs, there was a different colour in that area. But we weren't really that concerned about that part of the shroud, since we weren't thinking about radiocarbon dating in 1978, so we didn't pay that much attention to that corner. In 1988, that's the corner they sampled from, they took a piece and cut it into thirds, and each was distributed to the three laboratories that remained involved in the testing. They went away, none of them performed the chemical analysis that was called for by their own protocol, and when they were asked why the response was, "well we know which sample the shroud was, so we didn't need to do the chemical analysis."
Interestingly enough, had they done the chemical analysis, they may have found something that was extraordinarily different about this corner. Yet that didn't happen for another 20 years. So they took their sample, they did their testing, they came out with their results which was a medieval date, 1260-1390 I believe, and they with much fanfare went up on the television, and the media, and the world headlines were, "Shroud is a fake!" Now remember that there were hundreds of tests taken in 1978 that indicated the shroud was not a painting, was not a photograph, it was not the kind of thing that one would expect to be a manufactured relic. And yet that was the public outcry, "Shroud is a fake!" The headlines around the world. And so those of us who were directly involved, who were aware of all this other data that indicated the shroud was not a fake, were left out in the cold. It brought all shroud research basically to a screeching halt for almost twenty years. So the carbon dating was the primary scientific evidence that disputed the authenticity of the shroud, and a wealth of other evidence gathered by our team and others indicated that shroud was not a fake, that it was not a medieval painting, forgery, hoax, photograph, rubbing, etching, dust painting... these are all things that had been basically used to describe the shroud and what it might have been. So at the end of this period of 1999 when the results were announced, those of us who were involved with the study of the shroud from a truly scientific point of view were left scratching our heads and wondering, "how could this be?"
So the radiocarbon dating of the shroud in 1988 was a major setback for those of us who had studied the shroud all these years, and for those of us who had come to believe that the shroud could possibly be authentic. In fact, it wasn't until 2004 when Ray Rogers, who is a chemist from Los Alamos National Laboratories, who was a member of our team (as a matter of fact he headed the chemistry), and the man who had initially believed that the image on the shroud was dehydrated cellulose, that was his initial conclusion, Ray Rogers re-addressed the shroud. He was ill, and his time was coming to pass away, and he knew that he hadn't really completed what he had begun, and so Ray decided that he would revisit this issue of the shroud. And one of the first things that prompted him to do so was a paper that was published in 2000 by Joe Marino and Sue Benford, that claimed that the corner from which the radiocarbon sample had been taken was in fact a re-woven, patched, or repaired corner.
Well when Ray Rogers heard this, being a good friend, we discussed it because I published the paper on my website (shroud.com), Rogers saw their paper and called me up and said, "Look, I'm gonna prove these people wrong and it's only gonna take me five minutes." And I said, "Fine Ray, you do what you have to do." I mean he was a scientist and wasn't asking my permission anyway. Ray told me afterwards that he spent one hour examining samples he had from that corner where the radiocarbon dating sample had been removed, and he said after one hour he found that Benford and Marino were correct, and that he was wrong, and there was evidence that this corner was anomalous. Now remembering that Ray Rogers is a chemist, Ray took his sample and he performed a chemical analysis and a microscopic analysis. What the microscopic analysis revealed was a gummy substance on the surface of the fibers on this corner. The other thing that he found that was very unique was cotton interwoven with the linen itself, and there was no cotton found anywhere else interwoven with the fibers of the shroud linen, so this made it unique. Now when he did the chemical analysis of the 'gummy' substance he found that it was gum arabic, and when he looked at the gum arabic under the microscope he found little particles of a dye that came from from the Madder Root plant. And so this dye had apparently been put in a gum arabic base and applied to the surface of the re-woven area of the shroud to match it to the rest of the shroud in colour. Now remember I said earlier that what we see in my white light photographs of the shroud is different discolouration in this corner, so the dye they used may have matched it perfectly to the shroud when the work was done, probably in medieval times, but after five or six hundred years even that was now no longer matching the actual colour of the rest of the shroud. Well the chemical analysis found this Madder root dye, it was obviously applied from the surface because when we separated the fibers of the sample he examined, behind it there was no dye or gum arabic, so it had been literally re-woven first and this had been applied to the surface, dobbed on if you will, to match the colour of the rest of the shroud. Well this changed everything, and consequently Ray found a splice in one of his samples, he actually found an end-to-end splice, and this is not found in the rest of the shroud, one can look at the transmitted light photographs I made (light passing through the shroud) and in many places you could see where at the end of a piece of yarn, a hank of yarn, when they had to attach a new hank of yarn, they just laid them literally one on top of the other and slammed down the loom device, and kept on weaving. There were no splices found elsewhere on the shroud, though there is a splice in this corner. Now to be certain that he was correct, because Ray was a really empirical scientist, Ray Rogers obtained a reserve piece of the actual sample cut for radiocarbon dating back in 1988 from the Turin authorities. So he obtained this sample and he performed the same chemical analysis on this and found exactly the same thing. So we now know that this sample, this corner of the shroud is anomalous and is not the same as the rest of the shroud. Now this is extremely important obviously from a radiocarbon dating point of view because if there was a re-woven section done sometime in medieval times, then by all means that would yield a different radiocarbon date than some of the shroud that was not manipulated elsewhere on the cloth. So had more than one sample been taken perhaps we would have had some indication right away that there was a discrepancy between this corner and the rest of the cloth. But because that was the only sample taken everybody drew their conclusions virtually from a single sample. And although three different labs tested it they all tested the same sample, so it was really only one test done three times, not three different tests, because they all use the same AM/FM radio radiocarbon dating technique.
Perhaps the greatest irony of this whole process is that had the three laboratories performed the chemical analysis that was part of their original protocol back in 1988, had they performed that chemical analysis, had they looked at these samples under a microscope and then chemically as Ray Rogers did, perhaps they too would have found this anomaly in this area and then gone back and said look, we do have to get some samples from elsewhere on the shroud. But that's not what happened. What happened was, they were satisfied with the single sample. They didn't perform the chemical analysis. And considering that this was claimed to be a 'blind study', meaning they weren't supposed to know which samples were which, yet by their own admission they didn't do the chemical analysis because they knew which samples were the shroud. So somehow there's a discrepancy that I won't do into. Now when when we think about it, all that Rogers really did was finish what they had started by getting a reserve portion of the same sample that had been cut, by performing both the microscopic and chemical analysis, Rogers was able to determine that this area of the Shroud of Turin was different from the rest of the cloth. Now that's significant because in essence what was tested was an area that had been repaired, re-woven, patched, whatever word you want to use. But that brings me to the subject of the visible detection of this, because some of the authorities in Turin continued to insist that Ray Rogers was wrong and this was impossible because they don't see a repair.
Well, that is a very valid point because usually when something's re-woven, if you look on the back side you'll see threads sticking out. In other words, we only in modern day re-weaving repair the side that is to be viewed, the outside of your trousers when you burn a hole in them and you get them re-woven, the outside looks perfect and you can't find it but on the inside you can see where the repair was made. Well interestingly enough, in the fifteen and sixteen hundreds the French had perfected something that they called 'invisible re-weaving'. Now when this first was mentioned by Benford and Marino most people just sort of waved their hands and said, "Please, if this was there we would have seen it by now!" Well Benford and Marino quoted from a reference, one of their references was a book written by one of the curators of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a textile expert in his own right, and he devoted two entire chapters to French invisible re-weaving. And it was perfected in the French court at the same time the shroud was documented to be in France. And secondly, according to the expert, this type of re-weaving was so perfect, and they had perfected it on both sides of the re-woven cloth, that the only way anyone could detect this would be with a microscope and to know exactly what to look for and where to look for it, otherwise it would remain invisible. It's that good.
Well, it's very hard for skeptics to believe that such a technique could be even in existence, particularly in medieval times. And yet, there is absolute scientific evidence to the fact that this technique was performed and that the shroud was in fact in France at this very same time. So there seems to be a correlation that obviously if there is a repair, and the shroud was in France, what better object than the Shroud of Turin would the King of France or the French court choose to use this spectacular technique on than this cloth, reported to be a relic of Jesus?
So what conclusion can we draw from all of this? Well there is no doubt that the work of Ray Rogers, which by the way isn't just published in a TV documentary or a website or a magazine or some commercial book, Ray Rogers submitted his research on this anomalous sample to one of the finest chemistry journals in all of the world, a journal named 'Thermochemica Acta', and they spent seven months reviewing his work, making him make changes, going back and making him re-do certain parts of his experimentation, furthering his documentation of what he'd found, and after seven months his paper was published in January of 2005. So we now have the first piece of peer-reviewed scientific evidence that's appeared in a refereed scientific journal, proving that the sample used in 1988 for the radiocarbon dating of the shroud was in fact anomalous, did not represent the main body of the shroud cloth, and consequently the Shroud of Turin itself was not dated but only this repaired corner was dated, which was obviously a synthesis of both old and new threads yielding the medieval date that was concluded by the 1988 radiocarbon dating. So that test, if we just look purely at the science, forget about all the other commercial aspects and the bloggers and the pundits, looking solely at the science this is the first conclusive evidence that indicates that the Shroud of Turin itself was not dated, but a repair was. Now there are many people who disagree with this, and they'll continue to disagree, and my answer to that is simply this: That is somebody finds something wrong in what Ray did, Ray Rogers himself would have been the first to say publish it, get it into the literature, and I will change my mind, as he had done on more than one occasion in the world of the shroud. As new evidence came in Rogers was flexible, and was willing to accept that his original opinions and conclusions might have been wrong, and was willing to change as the evidence showed otherwise. That's what I call real science. I've been privileged to be a part of that, and that's why I firmly believe that the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin in 1988 did not in fact date the actual shroud, but dated this repaired corner.
Well one of the things that the skeptics continue to harp on about the Shroud of Turin is one of its image properties. The shroud has its lights and darks reversed, as though it were a photographic negative. And so we're used to seeing light highlights and dark shadows, but on a photographic negative you have just the inverse of that, the opposite of that. Well there have been some people who have actually come to the conclusion that the Shroud of Turin was actually a photograph, and was actually a photograph made by a camera obscura in medieval times, made by none other than Leonardo Da Vinci. Well, the first time I heard that I laughed my head off because the shroud is documented in the historical record a full one-hundred years before Da Vinci was even born, so he was a good artist but he wasn't that good. So I've always laughed at that, but then a gentleman in South Africa, and art history professor, actually took a statue, used a camera obscura, and created a light-sensitive emulsion using amongst other things silver salts and his own urine, and created an image on this linen cloth using a camera obscura. Well he bantered this about and the world immediately jumped on this and said, "Oh look! The shroud after all is really just a photograph!" Well first of all, silver, which is considered a heavy metal by scientists, the salts in the silver that would have embedded themselves into this cloth as it would have been a liquid emulsion and soaked in, those silver salts would have been detected by some of the spectral analysis performed by our team in 1978. I mean we could detect a few particles in a billion of the plastic bag in which the cloth had been stored, so to detect a heavy metal like silver would have been very simple. There was none on the shroud. So immediately the scientific evidence does not bear out this theory that the shroud was made by a photographic emulsion onto linen cloth. That's just not born out by the facts. But Nicholas Allen was very convincing in his presentation. One thing that I noted that Nicholas Allen never did, was that he never took a shroud photograph, even one of mine, put it side by side with his result, and compared them side by side. So a few years back, because I had been asked questions about Allen's work so many different times, I decided I would do a study, write a paper and present it at one of the shroud conferences, which I did back in the year 2000 in italy. The paper is called, "Is the Shroud of Turin a Medieval photograph: A critical look at the subject." And that is available on the website at shroud.com. Now one of the things that the side by side comparison immediately demonstrates is there's a dramatic difference between the photographic image made by Nicholas Allen and the image on the shroud which was not made by photographic means. And one of the the things that we all know about taking a photo, that if you’re at the correct distance and your camera is set correctly, the image will be in focus. Well, the image on the Shroud of Turin has a unique property, since its light or darkness was directly proportionate to how close it was to the body at the time the image was formed. As the distance increased, the image on the shroud becomes more faint. Well, what does that mean? What it means is that in essence, what's encoded in the shroud is a topographical map based on the distance the shroud was from the body. As the distance increased around the edges of the body, for example around the side of the head, as that distance between the cloth and the body increased the image just fades away. There are no distinct sharp edges anywhere on the shroud's image. Yet Nicholas Allen's photograph was beautiful, sharp around the edges, as we would expect a photographic image to be. The shroud image was not made that way, and consequently we can say that the image on the Shroud of Turin, though it has properties like a photographic negative, is not by itself a photograph.
Now that we know that the radiocarbon dating is certainly in question, then we need to think about what should be done in the future to continue our knowledge of the shroud and perhaps put aside this one radiocarbon date in favour of doing a more proper, professional radiocarbon date where chemical analysis is performed, multiple samples are taken, and I think that this is critical for the future of research on the Shroud of Turin, because as long as the age of the shroud remains in doubt, and it will remain in doubt even though there's now evidence showing that the radiocarbon dating was not in fact definitive and definitely had questions that were left unanswered, we still have to consider what else could be done with the shroud. Now thinking back to what our team did in 1978, remember that the technology we brought with us was the best that was available circa 1978. Well this is practically thirty years later as I speak these words, and we now have so much of an advance in technology, the spectral capabilities are so much more sensitive, the infra-red imaging that we did on the shroud was not that successful in 1978 because the infra-red sensors themselves were not very sensitive compared to what we would need for something as subtle as the image on the shroud, because as you've seen the shroud's image is not a really bright, distinct image that pops out at you, it's certainly nothing like any painting or photograph.
And an interesting little story - When my son saw it with me in 1998, he was eighteen at the time, we stood before the actual shroud in the Turin cathedral. And being a tall kid he leaned down and whispered in my ear, "That's not a painting." Well I didn't want to disrespect those who were there in the cathedral, so I waited until we exited the cathedral and I turned to him and I said, "David, what prompted you to say that? How do you reach that conclusion that it's not a painting just from looking at it?" And he says, "Look, artists spend their whole lives trying to perfect their art, their craft, so that when they paint something it's clear, it's understandable, it's obvious. The shroud is so subtle that at the distance that we were standing we could see the image distinctly. But as you get closer, for example within arms' length of the Shroud of Turin, you have to keep stepping away from it again and asking well what exactly am I looking at? Because it's so subtle, and the closer you get the harder it is to see." So I think that when you look at the shroud itself, and you realize the subtlety of what's there, why would an artist even conceive of doing something like this when we have literally scores of replicas made of the Shroud of Turin by artists, professional artists, who are allowed to view the shroud itself and then paint their replica, and no-one has even come close. They're cartoon-like in comparison to the subtleties and the detail in the image of the man on the shroud. And yanno it's funny how sometimes the skeptics will say, "Well yanno the shroud is too perfect, therefore it must be a fake!" Well what's interesting about that is, if the shroud were less perfect, meaning the science of the shroud were less perfect, they would say well it's not perfect so it must be a fake. So there's absolutely no way apparently to please the skeptics who will forever look at the Shroud of Turin and say it's a fake, it's a medieval hoax. And yet it's a painting made without any paint, there is no paint or pigment on the shroud other than a few microscopic particles that were found and lifted off the surface of the cloth during our work, and one of these samples was given to a man named Walter McCrone, and he found a particle of paint on the shroud. And so he claimed well that's it, the shroud's a painting because I found a particle of paint on one stickytape sample removed from the shroud's surface. Well the analogy I like to use for how significant that is is that I know if I were to take a stickytape sample from the carpeting around my desk we would probably find some Oreo cookie crumbs on that tape sample. But that doesn't mean my carpet is made of Oreo cookies. So because we find a few microscopic particles of paint on the shroud, we didn't find any more of them where the image is than in the non-image areas. So is the Shroud of Turin a painting? No. There isn't enough paint or pigment on the shroud to create the image we see.
And so in the end, I think maybe the most important thing about the shroud is, it's an enigma that continues to baffle us in certain areas. You get the chemistry right and the physics isn't right, you get the physics right and the chemistry seems wrong. It seems as if it defies us. And perhaps it's meant to do so. Perhaps the real value of the shroud is in making us think about it. Is it real? And if it is, what does it mean? And so in the end, I think each one of us has to search in our own hearts, to look at the shroud, and study it, and study its image, and then we have to decide in our own hearts: What does this really mean?
I don't think it's something that can be done externally, I think it's something that each of us must do in our own hearts. And I think that may be the only place we'll ever find the answer to the Shroud of Turin.
Thank you for reading this book by Simon Brown and his ghost writer. Please be kind and leave your comments email me at email@example.com
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14
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The GREAT Missing Stone. THE missing link to The TRUE TOMB OF JESUS, which Joseph of Arimathaea Cut for his own New Tomb Has Now Been Discovered.
Acts 13:41“;Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.’ ”
Mark 16:4 ; And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very GREAT.
The Great Stone at Mount Nebo overlooking the promised land is a testimony by God Almighty reminding all mankind that he sent from heaven an angel to roll away the stone; thereby signifying, that the debt was fully paid, and Yeshua is now legally discharged. And So are those who believe in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 READ FULL ARTICLE HERE
Dear friends do you know the Lord Jesus yet? Time is running out FAST in this evil world. God is always listening, and he will be there for you when you choose to speak to him.
God's there, listening for all who pray, for all who pray and mean it. Psalm 145:18, The Message (MSG) All I ask is that you don’t wait UNTIL IT IS TOO LATE. Watch this Video and Surrender Your Heart To God because He LovesYOU AND WILL SAVE YOUR SOUL.
“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” Psalm 53:1
Thank you for reading this article. May the Lord God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob bless you in Jesus name I pray.
Simon and Emma Brown.
IMPORTANT! Most of the material for this website was taken from the list below:
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the SON of God? 1 John 5:5.
THE SO CALLED ''MISSING LINKS'' TO EVOLUTION THAT FOOLED THE DUMB SCIENTIST
IF THE BIBLE IS TRUE, THEN WE CAN SEE THE EVIDENCE. IF THE BIBLE IS NOT TRUE, THAN WE WILL NOT FIND ANY EVIDENCE TO PROVE IT. MOST PEOPLE KNOW EVIDENCE PROVES THINGS TO BE TRUE. HAVE WE SEEN ANY EVIDENCE. THAT PROVES THE BIBLE? YES WE CAN STILL SEE 1000'S OF YEARS LATER THE STAGGERING EVIDENCE TO PROVE EVERY STORY OF THE BIBLE. The many bible discoveries and information on this web site proves the Holy Bible to be forensically accurate and perfectly reliable in every possible way and in every detail truthful concerning the most important events in human history. The whole purpose of this website is to help bring people to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Some need evidence, others do not. I hope that the evidence shown on this site helps you make a decision for the Lord. When we “believe” that Jesus Christ truly died on the cross for our sins and if we believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and follow Him by taking up our cross, you shall be saved. 1 Thessalonians 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Some need physical proof... well here it is. Some simply believe. The Bible says, “Blessed are those who have not seen, yet hath believed.” Whether you believe what I’ve shared in this website or not, and you have not yet received this free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord, now is the day. Let today be the day of your salvation! If you are looking for the evidence of the bible, God or Jesus, here it is. It is time to turn away from our sins, believe and receive salvation, and follow Jesus. Amen.
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Truth springs from the earth, And righteousness looks down from heaven. Psalm 85:11 Barnes' Notes on the Bible:
Truth shall spring out of the earth - As plants do - for this is the meaning of the word. The blessings of truth and righteousness would be like the grass, the shrubs, the flowers, which spring up from the ground - and like the, rain and the sunbeams which come from heaven. Truth would spring up everywhere, and abound in all lands, as plants, and shrubs, and grass spring up all over the earth.
Matthew 27:51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.
THE SEAL AT THE GARDEN TOMB. - Matthew 27:65 "Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
Matthew 27.33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).
Our Search for the Tomb of Jesus Book
Read the new book for FREE Our Search for the Tomb of Jesus and learn about the real crucifixion site of Jesus. Packed with new exciting evidence. by Simon Brown.